Thursday, January 27, 2011

Group lobbies for full-strength beer at Kansas grocery, convenience stores

Posted by on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Could full-strength beer be coming to grocery stores?
  • Could full-strength beer be coming to grocery stores?

The debate over whether full-strength beer should be sold in Kansas retail, convenience and grocery stores returned to Topeka this week.

The Coalition for Jobs and Consumer Choice -- its membership includes QuikTrip, Walmart, Hy-Vee, and Casey's General Stores -- held a press conference at the State House on Tuesday to lobby for a change in the liquor laws which currently only allow beer and wine coolers with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent to be sold at retail locations.

The CJCC released the results of their study, "An Economic Case for Increased Competition in the Sale of Beer, Wine, and Spirits in the State of Kansas," which asserts that changing the liquor laws would create an estimated 15,367 new jobs. And those jobs would come from the 116 additional grocery stores and 449 more convenience stores that would apparently open because of the possibility of increased revenue.

The picture is not as rosy for liquor store owners. The study suggests that the shift in sales would lead to 58 percent fewer liquor stores, an estimated 341 across the state. While the sales and job projections will be debated -- in arenas other than here -- I'm curious about whether Kansas consumers care where they're buying their beer? Does the potential expertise of a liquor store employee (granted not all liquor store employees are created equally) outmatch the likely added convenience of full-strength beer being more widely available?

The decision to relax the liquor laws holds special interest for the Kansas City area as liquor stores have clustered near State Line in order to capture the business of Kansas residents crossing over into Missouri. On Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, members of the CJCC are set to testify before the Senate State and Federal Affairs committee on the economic impact of a change in the current liquor laws. 

[Image via Flickr: iboy_daniel]

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