Nova Scotia resists engaging New Brunswick in beer price war
Bargain prices offered for some beer by NB Liquor won't be matched in Nova Scotia — at least not yet
Nova Scotia's provincial liquor corporation says it's going to wait and watch before launching a beer price war with New Brunswick.
The Crown corporation says for now, it's not going to drop its prices on canned beer to match a new promotion by NB Liquor.
"We are watching very, very closely to see what happens," spokesperson Denise Corra says.
- NB Liquor cheep beer promotion is attracting Nova Scotians, too
- NB Liquor price cut is a risk, Mooshead says
NB Liquor announced this week it will begin offering four 15-can packs of beer for $74.99, which works out to $1.25 per can.
Customers can mix and match six different brands, including two from Saint John-based Moosehead Breweries.
We are watching very, very closely to see what happens.- Denise Corra, Nova Scotia liquor corporation
"We're not going to be offering that option right now," Corra says, though she would not rule it out in the future.
"I wouldn't want to say one way or the other."
The NB Liquor promotion ends on Sept. 4.
The move could shift the cross-border beer phenomenon from the Quebec-New Brunswick border to the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border.
Nova Scotians flock to Sackville
On Thursday, the NB Liquor store in Sackville, just a few minutes' drive from Amherst, N.S., saw a heavy flow of beer buyers from across the border.
"We saw it on the news and it was like, `Wow! We're going to Sackville tomorrow,'" said Brenda Selig of Amherst.
Nova Scotia law says provincial residents can bring a maximum of 24 litres of beer back from another province for their personal use.
Corra says Nova Scotia Liquor has to "balance any future approach to a competitive issue like this one with our mandate to promote responsible enjoyment."
Part of the corporation's mandate is to make sure alcohol doesn't get "into the wrong hands," she said.
"It's a key lens through which we make decisions … Is it a good idea to sell large amounts of beer at a very low price?"
A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia department of finance, which is responsible for liquor regulation, says the government leaves it up to the corporation to decide on asking for increased enforcement of the 24-litre limit
Corra wouldn't speculate on whether Nova Scotia Liquor would eventually ask the police to do that.
Corra wouldn't speculate on whether Nova Scotia Liquor would eventually ask the government and the police to step up its enforcement of the 24-litre limit.
She also said there's no immediate worry about the impact on sales, noting the company saw sales grow in many categories last year and handed $241 million in profits to the Nova Scotia government. "We do feel we have a very strong offering in our stores for our customers," she said.
NB Liquor's ability to compete with Quebec beer sales near Edmundston and Campbellton was undercut in the spring by a court ruling that said provincial cross-border beer restrictions were unconstitutional.
A provincial court judge acquitted Gerard Comeau of Tracadie of charges he violated the Liquor Control Act when he brought 14 cases of beer and three bottles of liquor back to New Brunswick from Quebec.
NB Liquor says the new discount promotion is merely an "evolution" of an earlier mix-and-match discount and not a response to people buying beer in Quebec.