OCSA - The Impact of the Grocery Store-Beer Deal

Published: Tue, 03/31/15

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Convenience Connect: 2015 Vol. II
Included in this newsletter you will find...
  • The impact of the grocery store-beer deal on convenience stores
  • Details on the proposed menthol ban included in Bill 45
  • Minimum wage increase, electronic cigarettes and more...

What The Grocery Store-Beer Deal Means For Us

Why not us?
Members of the OCSA are already aware that Ed Clark and Kathleen Wynne have repeatedly denounced the concept of beer in convenience stores (despite that convenience stores remain the largest retailer of beer throughout North America). At the same time they’ve confirmed rumours that beer and wine will be made available in big box grocery stores in many urban communities. Convenience store owners have every reason to be disappointed, we all are, especially since many of you and your staff have helped us do the heavy lifting campaigning for this right.
The question worth asking, however, is “why not us”? It should be asked and answered in every community. If you should hear because of age testing; the answer is simple – we’ve demonstrated time and again that we’re the empirical best at asking for ID for age-restricted products and cooperate happily with AGCO and local tobacco enforcement in the many mystery shops we face. Big box grocers have no track record of selling age restricted products and haven’t been tested in Ontario.

Convenience stores sell legal tobacco responsibly to 1.6 million adult smokers in Ontario either daily or weekly and submit 100% of taxes on these products. As well we sell $2.2 billion worth of lottery and gaming tickets annually in over 9,500 Ontario locations representing 76% of the lottery business in the province. Why not another category like Beer?
Let's not throw in the towel!
Our channel now, more than ever, needs to get the message out to local MPPs everywhere and we need to have a cohesive voice on what this type of decision could mean to convenience stores for years to come. We need every retailer to take a moment and contact their local MPP explaining the damage this could do to small, family-run businesses in every community. It would also strengthen our case if many would put pen to paper and explain the issues and the unfairness of the government picking winners and losers in the competitive retail market.

OCSA's Beer Strategy Heading Forward

1) Engage the grass roots to educate local political representatives on the impact of the grocery store decision on the convenience sector;

2) Continue to press the Liberal government to have them understand the value of the LCBO Agency Store program, the competency of the sector to assume 100 more licenses, and to separate the request from the current Ed Clark panel process;

3) Engage opposition parties to promote small business and rural messaging on the “large grocery” policy;

4) Engage select rural mayors that can advocate for more Agency stores on behalf of their communities;

5) Supplement with media relations

Menthol Ban Proposed in Bill 45

Legislation in the works could have a negative impact on convenience stores and it's necessary that OCSA members voice their concern.

With the recent proposal of Bill 45, the government aspires to curb the consumption of tobacco among youth but critics are concerned that it will have the opposite effect.

Bill 45 calls for a ban on flavoured tobacco products such as menthol cigarettes. Unfortunately, rather than discourage youth from acquiring the product, it simply pushes them to acquire the product through nebulous means.

Until the government cracks down on youth possession of such products - which it currently fails to do, solely forbidding the sale of tobacco to minors instead - the biggest benefactor of the legislation will undoubtedly be the hundreds of contraband tobacco outposts scattered throughout Ontario.

According to an Abacus Study, 43% of smokers polled would consider looking for their tobacco products elsewhere, including at illegal sources. As many as 62% polled say that they would consider getting their tobacco products from First Nations reserves.
Flavoured Tobacco Faces Ban 
The survey's findings are in line with data collected after the mini-cigar ban of 2010. When the federal government implemented a ban on miniature cigars, seizure of the product on the black market increased nearly ten-fold.

Not only would Bill 45 complicate the effort to limit the the number of youths smoking in Ontario by pushing them elsewhere, it would do so while unwillingly empowering an unlicensed, and unlawful, industry. The government may have had the best intentions with its decision to implement the flavoured tobacco ban, but the potential consequences are too grave to overlook. 

Express your concerns with the proposed menthol ban by logging on to NoMentholBan.ca.
Take A Stand Against The Menthol Ban
The OCSA needs your help to fight back against the proposed menthol ban. Engage customers with our latest campaign. Spread awareness through the provided stickers and literature.

Minimum Wage to Increase in October

Ontario's minimum wage is set to increase this fall, as of October 1, the new official minimum wage for general employees will increase from $11.00 to $11.25. The increases comes on the heels of legislation enacted last fall which ties future annual increases to Ontario's Consumer Price Index. This will be the ninth increase since 2003.

Mystery Shop Program Expected In July

Health Authorities said survey teams of children “either 15, 16 or 17” under adult supervision will be dispatched to convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies, supermarkets, discount stores, mall kiosks and “dedicated ‘vape’ shops” to attempt to buy e-cigarettes. The test shoppers are to report on “any overt actions, words and behaviour of the sales clerk just short of completing the sale”.

The undercover operation will run from July 1 to September 30 at some 4,000 retail outlets nationwide, the department said. Target cities were not named, though Health Canada’s annual surveillance of regular tobacco sales last year occurred in Bathurst, N.B.; Brandon, Man.; Calgary; Campbell River, B.C.; Charlottetown; Chicoutimi, Que.; Edmonton; Fredericton; Halifax; Kelowna, B.C.; Kingston, Ont.; Medicine Hat, Alta.; Moncton, N.B.; Montréal; Ottawa; Québec City; Red Deer, Alta; Regina; St. Catharines, Ont.; Saint John; St. John’s; Saskatoon; Sherbrooke, Que.; Sudbury, Ont.; Sydney, N.S.; Thunder Bay; Ont.; Toronto; Vancouver; Windsor, Ont.; and Winnipeg.

Please be aware and prepare your staff!

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