Private Victoria liquor stores charge up to 35% more

BCGEU survey finds 93% of all private store prices higher than government-run stores. None were lower.

Download BCGEU survey of Private Retail Liquor Prices in Victoria, B.C.Victoria (6 May 2009) - Evidence continues to mount across Canada that private liquor retailers are gouging consumers and providing inferior service compared to government-run stores.

A survey of 17 private liquor stores in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, shows that prices at private outlets are up to 35% higher than those charged at government stores.

Conducted by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), the survey compared prices for six of the most common popular products.

Overall, 93% of all prices surveyed in private outlets were higher than Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) retail prices. None were lower.

BCGEU president Darryl Walker says the results are surprising given the taxpayer-financed advantages that the province's Liberal government gives to private retailers.

"The Campbell government gives private operators a generous 16% discount when they purchase their stock from the government's Liquor Distribution Branch," says Walker.

"Yet, private store prices remain excessively high. Clearly, in challenging economic times, public liquor stores offer the lowest prices by far and the best value for consumers."

No private bargains

A total of 102 price comparisons were made in the survey (six products at 17 separate private stores):

  • 95 prices (93% of all surveyed) were higher than the LDB price.
  • 19 prices were greater than 25% above the LDB price.
  • 40 prices were 15-25% higher.
  • 5 prices were comparable to the LDB retail price.
  • 0 were less than the LDB price.

"It also appears that some private liquor outlets jack their prices even higher (10-15%) during the hours when a nearby public liquor store is closed," the BCGEU says.

On average, private stores charged 16% more for a 750 ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka, almost 13% more for a bottle of Bacardi rum, and nearly 14% more for Crown Royal rye.

Even higher average prices were levied by private stores on surveyed wines and beer.

Prices were close to 20% higher for Yellow Tail Shiraz, almost 19% higher for Yellow Tail Chardonnay, and nearly 15% more for a 12-pack of Budweiser cans.

The survey took place April 27-28, 2009 and reviewed regular retail prices only. The findings do not reflect any limited time/quantity sale pricing. Results can be downloaded at


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