Since 1993, private companies have provided Alberta liquor store sales, warehousing and liquor distribution. Alberta is the only province that has privatized liquor stores and warehousing-distribution, though only a few large contractors handle the latter. In BC, purchasing, warehousing and distribution is handled by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.
Manufacturers set their own prices and sell liquor products to the AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis), which in turn adds a markup, taxes and fees.
The AGLC wholesale pricing formula is manufacturer price + AGLC markup + container deposit + recycling fees + federal duties/taxes = wholesale price paid by licensees. Learn more here.
There are currently over 200 liquor manufacturers in Alberta. All manufacturer products must be registered with AGLC.
Manufacturers distribute products to licensees via AGLC-authorized warehouser/distributors, directly through the manufacturing facility; through the manufacturer’s website; or, at AGLC-approved farmers markets and artisan markets. In the case of self-distribution, the manufacturer is responsible for invoicing customers, obtaining payment before delivery, and delivering the product.
Spirits, wine, coolers and imported beer are warehoused and distributed by Connect-Logistics from its main warehouse in St. Albert and additional storage spaces in Edmonton.
Domestic beer is warehoused and shipped by three large warehousers: Brewers Distributor Ltd – distributor of mainly Labatt and Molson products with warehouses in Edmonton Calgary; Big Rock Brewery – a manufacturer-distributor that distributes beer from its Calgary plant; and Sleeman Brewery Ltd – a manufacturer-distributor that distributes from Calgary.
Read more about Alberta liquor warehousing and distribution.
Alberta liquor licensing is administered by AGLC. Licensees buy at AGLC wholesale prices and then set their own retail prices. All licensees pay the same wholesale price for a given manufacturer’s product.
Licensed private retailers operate from 10 am to 2 am daily. Consumers may purchase liquor at over 2300 retailers province-wide. Read more at alcohollaws.ca.
The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is responsible for purchasing, warehousing and wholesale distribution of liquor to licensee retail stores (private liquor stores), independent wine stores, rural licensee agency stores, duty free stores, and licensed establishments selling beverage alcohol (pubs, restaurants, lounges) in BC.
LDB operates 197 retail liquor stores in the Lower Mainland of BC under the “BC Liquor Store” brand. Manufacturers licensed by the BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) may register products and prices with LDB.
The LDB Wholesale Pricing Department is responsible for setting wholesale prices. Manufacturers may enter into a direct sales agreements with the LDB in order to sell products to specific customers.
Manufacturers are paid directly from LDB for products sold to LDB. The payments include duty paid costs minus adjustments such as bottle deposits, recycling fees, delivery costs, and charge backs. Manufacturers collect all direct wholesale sales proceeds on behalf of the LDB.
BC liquor licensing is administered by the LCRB.
Licensees buy from LDB or directly from manufacturers that have sales agreements with LDB. Licensees set their own retail prices.
Licensed private retailers can now operate from 7am to 11pm daily if they choose. Operating hours were extended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then due to industry feedback, on June 30, 2021, the BC government announced that the extended hours would be a permanent option.
Consumers purchase liquor from approximately 700 private liquor retailers and 197 “BC Liquor Stores” run by LDB for a total of 897 liquor retailers. Alberta, with a population of 4.37 million (700,000 fewer people than BC) has 2.5 times as many liquor retailers (2300 vs 897).
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