Convenience stores in New Jersey have noticed a decline in sales over the past years. The cause? According to Kasmir Gill, local convenience store owner, it is the combination of raising the tobacco legal age to 21 and the decrease in soda sales due to parents discouraging their children from drinking soda.
To counter this, Gill and other convenience store owners are looking for New Jersey to develop a liquor license that would allow for convenience stores to sell beer and wine. Their reasoning is that many other states already do this, and they are “not looking to be a liquor store”.
Laws currently state that corporate entities cannot hold more than two liquor licenses, but recent testimony was trying to increase this number to 10. In total, New Jersey only has 9000 liquor licenses, and people or companies are willing to spend a lot of money to obtain one. Legislators feel that those who have spent a lot of money would be frustrated and seeking refunds if more licenses go into place.
Aside from frustrating those who already have liquor licenses, increasing liquor licenses to convenience stores could easily raise the number of underage consumers and buyers. The biggest argument about why convenience store sales have gone down both have to do with youth – not being able to buy tobacco products legally anymore, and being discouraged to buy carbonated beverages.
If convenience stores are desperate enough for money that they feel the only way to make money is to sell wine and beer, then who is to say they will not sell to underage buyers. New Jersey has almost 3300 convenience stores, which would increase the liquor licensure by 36%.
Washington state experienced a large deregulation similar to the one proposed here back in 2011. From 328 liquor stores to over 1700, they noticed a rise in price for consumers, fewer options available, an increase in shoplifting, and a significant increase in underage drinking.
By increasing the accessibility of alcohol to people under the age of 21, we are only increasing the risk of underage consumption. The cost of underage drinking far surpasses the profit gains that convenience stores may gain.