February 10, 2022 Op Ed by: Andy Ellen, President and General Counsel, NC Retail…
New Survey Results Show Strong Support for Privatization
RALEIGH, NC – A majority of North Carolinians support a rework of the current system of government- controlled ABC stores and the sale of spiritous liquor. Instead they believe liquor should be regulated more like beer and wine.
According to a recent Mason-Dixon poll, conducted the first of February and covering the state from east to west, North Carolinians have had enough of the old, antiquated system. Not only do the poll respondents want a rework of the system, but they believe that the government would actually be in a better position to control the sale of liquor if they were only regulating the product and no longer selling it.
Specifically, here are some of the key findings provided by the poll:
- No matter their region, gender, age, race or political party affiliation, the majority of North Carolinians support the state getting out of the business of selling spiritous liquor and regulating it like beer and wine.
- Again, across all subgroups, the majority of respondents polled believe that state government is in a better position to control the sale of liquor if they are only regulating the liquor and not also selling it.
- If respondents were voting based on their state legislator’s position on removing the business of selling liquor from the government (but maintaining control of regulation of sales), again, all subgroups said if it affected their vote at all it would make them more likely to vote for their legislator if they supported privatization.
In 1937, after the repeal of prohibition laws, the North Carolina General Assembly established a monopoly system for North Carolina and the sale of spiritous liquors. Now, more than 80 years later, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission still does exactly that – controls alcoholic beverages in North Carolina. They not only determine what brands of alcoholic beverages may be sold, maintain the state ABC warehouse for the distribution of liquor, regulate the sale of wine and beer, and issue permits for wineries, breweries, wholesalers, and retailers – they also, with total exclusivity, sell liquor by the bottle.
North Carolina is only one of eight states that controls both the wholesale and retail sale of liquor and the ONLY state where the stores are run by 170 local ABC Board in individual cities and towns. There are 428 stores servicing the entire population of a state of just over 10 million, as well as the out-of-state tourists. Meanwhile liquor drinks are available in any of the 4,051 bars or restaurants that serve liquor. As the state with the 9th largest population, there are currently .58 ABC stores per 10,000 people and the large majority of those stores only open until 9:00 pm and closed on Sundays, this only adds to the lack of convenience.
North Carolina residents have been saying it for years – they just want to purchase a bottle of liquor at the nearest grocery store like it’s done in most every other state. Modernizing the state’s liquor store system would open up sales to include supermarkets, bottle shops, package stores and other retailers. Better yet, shoppers could purchase beer, bordeaux and bourbon all under one roof. The Mason-Dixon poll provides support to the long-held belief of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association –the system hasn’t modernized with the times, nor does it meet the needs and wants of today’s consumers.
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NCRMA President Andy Ellen
Senior Communications Director Ann Edmondson