This week has seen a great deal of focus on a recent submission made by AACS to the Productivity Commission in lights of itâ€™s recent interim report on retail in Australia.
In this submission, AACS put forward the option of Convenience Stores being allowed to sell alcohol.
Since Monday of this week, there has been coverage in the Melbourne Herald Sun, the Sydney Telegraph and I have done interviews with 3AW, MTR, Channel 9, Geelong Advertiser, 2UE, 2SM MMM Sydney, ABC Sydney and other media.
The focus from our side has, amongst other points, been:
Convenience stores in many parts of the world can and do responsibly sell alcohol products in their stores. In Australia the liquor industry is dominated by the major supermarkets with as much as a 58% share of a $16billion category. We see a competitive opportunity for convenience stores to participate in this category as well as a convenience opportunity for customers.
We are able to responsibly sell age restricted products such as cigarettes and tobacco and we are therefore able do the same with alcohol.
While we acknowledge the health issues, the fact remains that there are already drive through bottle shops trading until midnight, and even later, in many areas. We are not advocating 24 hour alcohol sales and we would trade within the applicable regulatory frameworks. What we are seeking is a level playing field at a time when difficult retail trading conditions, high overheads and the increased dominance of the major supermarket chains is impacting many small businesses around the country.
The major supermarket chains continually announce expansion plans, and people complain about a lack of competitive tension in retail generally. The convenience industry can offer customers a choice even if it is on a limited range of products.
We are not advocating 24 hour access to alcohol and the industry will work with authorities on trading hour regulations as well as appropriate locations.