Restaurants and bars to see cheaper booze

The Yukon government has announced new wholesale liquor prices for bars, restaurants and off-sale vendors.

The Yukon government has announced new wholesale liquor prices for bars, restaurants and off-sale vendors.

Stacey Hassard, the newly appointed minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, made the announcement Thursday at Earls Restaurant.

“This is my first speaking thing, so I’m glad it’s a good-news story,” he said in his introductory remarks. “If there’s any fumbles along the way you’ll have to bear with me for my lack of experience.”

As of Feb. 2 liquor serving establishments will benefit from a 10 per cent discount off the retail price. Currently bars, restaurants and off-sale agents pay the same price listed at the territorial liquor stores, and mark up from there to make their profit.

The change was recommended by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, and was one of several suggestions related to the modernization of the territory’s liquor laws.

In B.C. wholesale discounts for alcohol range from 12 to 30 per cent off the retail price, said chamber president Peter Turner.

While the decision on whether or not to pass savings along to customers will be up to individual establishments, the government appeared to show a preference for keeping prices at current levels.

“I don’t think this announcement is so much about making it cheaper for the consumers,” said Hassard. “This is an announcement about helping small business, and the wholesale pricing will give them more of an advantage in their business. And like we said, the bottom line is it pays people’s bills and keeps the lights on. So that’s the important part here.”

The Yukon Liquor Corporation expects the decision will cost it $1.6 million in lost revenue annually.

Justin Munro, second vice chair of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce and part owner of Earls, also spoke at the announcement.

“This change couldn’t be more timely given the local economic landscape, and some concerns that are out there, and again will make us more competitive, and that, by extension, will benefit the end consumer,” he said.

Munro said it would be premature to say if Earl’s will lower its drink prices as a result of the change.

It will take time for the restaurant to realize the impact of the benefit and figure out how to make the best use of the savings, he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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