N.J May Allow C-Store Alcohol Sales

New Jersey’s budgeting woes may provide an opportunity for grocery stores and c-stores to sell beer and wine, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger reported.


The proposal has been stalled in the Legislature since last year, but the promise of increased tax revenue plus a proposed tax increase in 2010 on such sales could finally sway votes in its favor.


According to the New Jersey Food Council, about 400 dormant liquor licenses exist in the state and activating even half of them could bring in an estimated $60 million in new revenue and $50 million per year after that in recurring revenue.


Currently, New Jersey limits supermarket chains to two total liquor licenses and requires the liquor be sold separately from groceries, usually in an adjoining store.


“Unlike other states that have open and transparent liquor markets, the anticompetitive New Jersey liquor system leaves money on the table as these licenses sit idle and the sales tax revenue that goes with them is unrealized in the state’s coffers,” said Linda Doherty, President of the New Jersey Food Council.


The Star-Ledger reported that major chains, including QuickChek, Stop & Shop, SuperValu, Wegmans, Pathmark, Whole Foods Market and Albertsons, which owns Acme, are all in favor of the proposal, saying consumers would be assured more convenience and choice with one-stop shopping and would save money.


The New Jersey law was adopted in 1962 to prevent price fixing and monopolization and to combat organized crime.


Smaller liquor store owners worry that the change would drive them out of business because bigger stores can acquire larger quantities and sell the alcohol for less.


A floor vote has not yet been scheduled.


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