Today, the BC provincial government announced that, starting April 1, 2015, grocery stores in the province will be allowed to sell liquor through a “store-within-a store” model, i.e. a special section of a grocery store designated for liquor sales. (To accommodate some existing retailers, the government plans to lift the current “five kilometre rule” around the relocation of liquor licences, which prohibits a liquor retailer from relocating further than five kilometres from its original location. The “one kilometre rule”, the minimum distance between new or relocating private liquor stores, will remain in place.) On the same day, the government-run BC Liquor Stores will be able to provide refrigerated liquor, to stay open for longer hours, and to open on Sundays.
A new pricing regime will also be introduced. All liquor retailers, including BC Liquor Stores, will purchase their product from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch at the same wholesale price. This is in contrast to the current system, where liquor retailers purchase products at a discount based on the shelf price at BC Liquor Stores. Wine and spirits will follow a new price-based wholesale pricing, whereas beer will follow a new volume-based wholesale pricing, with a graduated mark-up system intended to allow small and medium-sized breweries to grow their product lines and create jobs.