The streak of cold, unforgiving weather assaulting the GTA for the past few weeks is finally yielding to warmer, more temperate conditions. In much the same way, The Beer Store’s dreary, chilled atmosphere is also gradually warming — up to its customers, that is.
On Jan. 6, the massive beer retailer announced that 13 new locations will be opening across the province of Ontario, and that 61 of its existing stores are scheduled for renovations as part of a strategic rebranding effort responding to an increasingly dissatisfied consumer base.
And some dissatisfied consumers are once again raising the issue of whether beer should be sold in corner stores.
Legal beer at your corner store?
A recent study paid for by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) and conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion concluded that nearly 70 per cent of respondents favour more competition between The Beer Store and smaller retailers, such as convenience stores, gas stations and grocery stores.
The survey results also revealed that only one in eight respondents was aware that The Beer Store is corporate- owned and operated by three of the world’s largest beer multinationals.
More than 60 per cent of people were angered by this revelation, despite the fact that this information is located openly on The Beer Store’s website.
The issue of responsibility
In October, Premier Kathleen Wynne said the Liberal government would work to expand the LCBO’s services across the province rather than allow the legal sale of beer and wine in convenience stores.
Her reasoning was that people tend to think of the government-run LCBO as more responsible when it comes to the sale of alcohol.
However, Statopex Marketing conducted an underaged ‘secret shopper’ study that showed convenience stores are more stringent than both The Beer Store and the LCBO when it comes to checking IDs, debunking Wynne’s statement.
The OCSA tweeted its take on The Beer Store’s monopoly over the provincial market:
Ontarians flock to Quebec, Michigan and NY state for beer since it us cheaper and convenient. The Beer Store monopoly discourages growth.
— OCSA (@OntarioCStores) January 5, 2014
Supporters and detractors of the Beer Store will have to wait and see if the changes it plans to implement are enough to regain consumer confidence in their business model.