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Desperate Qld convenience stores want to sell alcohol

Struggling convenience stores across Queensland want to be able to sell alcohol as a way to boost revenue in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Domanii Cameron,
July 9, 2020
The Courier-Mail

STRUGGLING Queensland convenience stores want to be able to sell alcohol to help them recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the renewed push, the peak body for the convenience industry said stores had proven they were responsible traders, already selling age-restricted products like cigarettes and lotto tickets.

But the State Government is not considering the change, with Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath saying its focus was on supporting jobs and employment in Queensland as businesses emerged from coronavirus restrictions.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the Government’s economic response to the health pandemic, The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) wrote alcohol regulations were “archaic and inconsistent in many states and current liquor laws unfairly favour the major supermarkets.”

AACS chief executive officer Jeff Rogut told The Courier-Mail allowing stores to sell packaged alcohol would boost revenue.

He said convenience stores across Queensland were going “pretty well” last year but as soon as the virus struck, people began working from home which meant less customers.

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“It’s not necessarily going to be for every convenience store, obviously staff would be trained in responsible service of alcohol,” he said.

“If anybody flouts the law, their license is removed.

“We’d be happy to pilot such a scheme just to be given the opportunity to compete and show that we can do it responsibly.”

The body, which represents retailers like Night Owl and BP, has been pushing for convenience stores to be able to sell alcohol for years.

In 2016, independent supermarkets across Queensland also demanded they be allowed to sell alcohol to compete with giants Coles and Woolworths.

Mr Rogut, who said the body had never advocated to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, said a change would require a state law.

“We’d be happy to trade in the same hours as other alcohol retailers,” he said.

National Retail Association chief executive officer Dominique Lamb conceded it was a complex issue.

“We want retailers to be able to select what they can and can’t sell with the appropriate licensing arrangements,” she said.

“There would need to be a review to look at that process.

“I think it’s definitely something we would support on the basis retailers should have the right to sell their wares legally, particularly when other states can do it.”

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