Ontario government announces first 58 grocery stores to allow sales of beer
In a big “shake-up” for alcohol sales in Ontario, beer is now available for sale in Ontario grocery stores, starting with 58 stores announced on December 15.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Minister of Finance Charles Sousa announced 13 independent grocery stores and 45 stores owned by large grocers that are now authorized to sell beer.
Ultimately, beer will be available at up to 450 grocery stores provincewide — roughly the same number of locations The Beer Store currently operates in Ontario.
Acccording to an Ontario government media release, Ontario is promising to expand access responsibly. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which visited all 58 locations as part of the authorization process, will now monitor the locations to ensure that they adhere to laws on the safe retail of alcohol. These include designated sales areas and hours of sale, limitations to package sizes and alcohol content by volume, and social responsibility training for staff.
Of the 58 stores involved in the roll-out, 19 are Loblaws locations.
“Our customers shop with us for all the flavours and ingredients of great meals, and today we can better serve that demand with the announcement that beer is here,” says Grant Froese, Chief Operating Officer, Loblaw Companies Limited. “This is a historic first step for our company and for the Ontario government, giving customers the greater convenience of shopping for groceries and beer in one stop. We expect great demand and customer anticipation for more opportunity in our local stores throughout the province, consistent with the government’s planned roll-out.”
The 19 Loblaws stores began beer sales on Dec. 15 with a tailored initial assortment of brands. As the assortment and display space expands into January, the chain says the largest-format beer sections could include more than 200 varieties of import, domestic and Ontario craft beer. The company intends to allocate 50 per cent of shelf space to local or craft beer, and plans to provide additional opportunities for regional favourites on a store-by-store basis.
“Beer is here — in grocery stores just in time for the holidays. As we continue with the largest shakeup to beverage alcohol sales in Ontario since the end of Prohibition, people are going to enjoy increasingly convenient access to their favourite beers and more choice in where they can buy them. We are expanding the availability of beer in a prudent and socially responsible way,” says Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne. “Wherever you buy beer, please continue to drink responsibly.”