New liquor store policies: Not a big deal?

The new liquor store policies in Connecticut have allowed owners to stay open until 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and until 6 p.m. on Sundays, but those who would have thought businesses would jump at the opportunity might be surprised to learn otherwise.

Curt Hopkins, manager of Super Saver Spirit in Shelton for the past eight years and treasurer of the Connecticut Package Store Association (CPSA), is one of multiple managers in local liquor stores that have chosen not to adjust its store hours to 10 p.m. during the week.

“The business level that would be there between 9 and 10 o’clock just doesn’t warrant the store to stay open,” said Hopkins.

This opinion matches that of several other store managers and employees around Shelton.

Both Danielle Cekle of the Wine Emporium and Frank Appleby of Last Call II Wine & Spirits said their store managers have also chosen to not stay open the extra hour on weekdays.

A representative from Stop & Shop was unavailable for comment on how the new policies have affected their sales on alcohol, but Hopkins said he’s received customer input on the changes.

“Virtually no one has said that they would come here at quarter to 10 to come and buy anything,” said Hopkins. “Grocery stores can stay open until 10 p.m. at night and it won’t cost them a dime because they don’t have any employees in that (alcohol) department. ”

Hopkins said three years ago when liquor sales were first permitted on Sundays, liquor stores state-wide lost up to five percent of their beer sales.

“Even though the beer is more expensive over there, people end up purchasing beer in supermarkets because it’s a convenience item,” said Hopkins. “Despite what the state says was going to happen in terms of increased revenue because of selling additional wine and beer on Sundays, they didn’t see those results. There was no gain.”

Shelton has more than 10 active liquor stores in the city, not counting the supermarkets that also sell alcohol.

Liquor store employees said more time will need to pass in order to have a better understanding on how these extended hours will affect their business

Has the owner’s ability to price alcohol changed?

In response to other published articles over the past week or so, Hopkins said that the state’s minimum bottle price structure is still in effect.

The lowest price a package store can charge for a bottle of alcohol is a set price known as the “bottle price.” This figure established by wholesalers and posted monthly in an effort to keep alcohol prices at smaller liquor stores in line with the prices at larger stores, preventing any discounts.

Could later hours mean more DUI charges?

Hopkins said he thinks the increase in access to liquor stores could contribute to more DUI cases in an individual town.

Shelton’s Chief of Police, Joel Hurliman said these new policies have given his team no reason to begin doing more crackdowns on DUI cases, but if any reason emerges they will take action.

These new policies also enabled people to own up to four alcoholic beverage retail permits; the limit of ownership on these permits was previously three per person. This limit is set to increase to a maximum of five permits per person as of July 1, 2016.