P.E.I. liquor sales up even as cannabis legalized

It looks as though sales of liquor on Prince Edward Island have not taken a hit since cannabis became legally available last fall — sales were up more than two per cent in the last three months of 2018.

'It was business as usual for liquor'

'Sales in the liquor stores are about where we predicted,' says the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission's Jamie MacLeod. (CBC News)

It looks as though sales of liquor on Prince Edward Island have not taken a hit since cannabis became legally available last fall. 

The value of booze sales was up 2.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2018, from October to December, over the same time period last year, the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission says. The volume of alcohol sold was up too — by 0.54 per cent. 

"Traffic patterns in liquor stores are pretty consistent and that's evidenced by our sales and the volume of sales as well," said Jamie MacLeod, the commission's director of corporate services.

'Cannibalism' of liquor sales not happening

MacLeod points out legal retail cannabis has only recently become available.

"I think really a fair evaluation would be after at least a one-year period, to see if there's any cannibalism," he said. "But at this point in time we don't see that." 

He suggests the sales in legal cannabis have taken from the black market rather than sales of booze.

He is not surprised liquor sales rose in that time period, since the commission has been moving toward bringing in and marketing more premium products, especially wine, that customers have been looking for, he said, "as opposed to buying economy brands." 

A strong local craft beer industry has also been a major influence on sales, he said. 

"Based on our business plan and projected forecast, sales in the liquor stores are about where we predicted, where we thought they would be at," MacLeod said. "It was business as usual for liquor." 

'Different customer'

The commission has not done any formal analysis of its customers and how they might intersect or overlap with customers of P.E.I. Cannabis.

But MacLeod said anecdotally, liquor and cannabis customers appear to be separate.

"It's a different class of customer, a different customer that's going to the cannabis stores and the liquor stores," he said. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin


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