HARTFORD - Gov. Dan Malloy proposed changes in the liquor store regulations in a radio interview Friday morning on the popular "Chaz and AJ" show. He proposed extending store hours until 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday and on Sunday until Sun 8 p.m.
Malloy also proposed a change to the minimum bottle law. Currently, when a wholesaler sells alcohol to a retailer, there is a price suggested for retail sale. That ensures the wholesaler makes a profit and that retailers can't sell at a price below the posted bottle price from wholesaler.
“Because in Connecticut, we pay a lot more for beer and wine than Massachusetts and New York and Rhode Island,” said Malloy, who was able to get Sunday liquor sales passed in 2012. “The first way to achieve this is doing away with minimum bottle price requirements,” said Malloy.
However, he also noted that liquor distributors are currently able to dictate to retailers the minimum price they can sell products for. “That’s why the prices are higher here than elsewhere,” Malloy added.
The retailer has guidelines for pricing. Malloy wants to allow retailers to now make their own price, so they could sell it closer to wholesale price, but not lower than the cost.
His idea for reform is to give retailers flexibility in pricing.
“So, if they've paid $5 for a bottle of wine and they want to sell it at $5.01, they get the right to do it, instead of having the wholesalers tell them they have to sell it at $8 or $9 or $10.
The final component in his plan, which he acknowledges will be very difficult to pass through the legislature, deals with liquor store ownership. Malloy wants to allow liquor store owners to own up to six stores. Right now, state law caps it at three, which Malloy says is not done with any other businesses in Connecticut.
“It’s anti competition. If somebody’s really good, let them get bigger,” urged Malloy.
Some liquor owners think the changes will help them compete with neighboring states. Other liquor store owners are afraid the changes will hurt mom and pop stores.
“This is only gonna weed out all the mom and pop liquor stores because the only stores that can buy in enough are the big box stores,” said Mike, a delivery man for a local liquor distributor in West Haven. His point was the big stores are the only ones who can afford to buy in bulk because of large inventory capacity.
“So, consumers should have to pay a higher prices to make you happy?” replied Malloy.
“You’re gonna weed out tons of stores in Connecticut, which means you’re gonna have a lot of people lose jobs,” said Mike, with whom many mom and pop shops agree.
Many store owners believe the governor needs to address the issues of the sales tax, growing excise tax and the 5 cent bottle deposit assessed on all malt and carbonated beverages. The retailers say they lose business to Massachusetts and Rhode Island because neither state has these obstacles.
Malloy predicted that liquor wholesalers and retailers would fight his proposed changes.
Here are the operating hours for liquor stores in neighboring states:
- New York: Beer 24 hours/day; wine and spirits: 9 a.m.-midnight Monday through Saturday and noon-9 p.m. on Sunday.
- Massachusetts: All alcohol 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. every day, except not before noon on Sunday.
- Rhode Island: All alcohol 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon-6 p.m. on Sunday,