November 18, 2015

Future of Liquor Retailing in Saskatchewan: Expanded Private Retail System

Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) Minister Don McMorris announced the new direction at a news conference today in Regina.  The direction includes converting 40 government liquor stores to private stores and adding 12 new private liquor stores in underserved communities.

“Saskatchewan consumers will enjoy more choice, more convenience and more competitive pricing,” McMorris said.  ”This new direction allows government to collect the same amount of revenue through a new wholesale markup while also correcting many inequities that have existed among the province’s various liquor retailers.

“We received a lot of valuable feedback from stakeholders, customers and the general public regarding their thoughts on the future of liquor retailing in the province.  This new direction reflects what we heard and I want to once again thank everyone who took part in the consultation process.” 

Currently, liquor is retailed by government liquor stores, full-line private stores, rural franchises and off-sale outlets.  Within these groups, there are many different rules including different discounts, restrictions on the type of products they can sell, restrictions on what beer products can be refrigerated and differences in how products can be priced.

The new expanded private retail model creates a level playing field for liquor retailers.  This means all liquor retailers will be treated the same when it comes to:

  • Purchasing alcohol for resale at a wholesale price;
  • Hours of operation;
  • Product selection; and
  • Chilling of beer products and more.

Another change will see commercial permittees like restaurants, sports facilities and convention centres able to purchase products from any liquor retailer, rather than the current requirement that they purchase exclusively from SLGA liquor stores and franchises.

The 40 government liquor stores that will be converted were evaluated on factors like efficiency, investment required and the ability to meet consumer needs.  In these communities, affected government liquor store employees will be given preferential consideration during the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for a new store.  Details of the RFP process will be developed over the coming months.  The changes will be implemented after the provincial election in April 2016.

“There’s a lot of change required to get our retail system where it needs to be and we now have a plan in place,” McMorris said.  “In the end, we’ll have a system that’s fair to retailers and beneficial to consumers while also protecting revenues for government priorities like infrastructure, education and health care.”