Yes – liquor is more expensive at an ABC store

North Carolina news

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WFMY) — Talking about a new bill to do away with the state-run ABC stores, Rep. Pricey Harrison says the plan would lower prices.

“That’s the way it’s worked in other states, because there will be competition,” she said. “And what’s kept prices somewhat higher is that we have a government-run monopoly on liquor sales.”

To find out if that’s true, WFMY went shopping for 1.5L bottles of the 10 most popular brands. At the ABC store in Greensboro, that lot would cost $363. But cross the state line to South Carolina, where they have private liquor sales, and you could buy the same stuff for $309 at a Total Wine store. That’s 15 percent cheaper.

The biggest discount was on Jim Bean Black – selling for $49.95 in North Carolina and $33.99 in South Carolina.

That’s a comparison at one private store. The National Institutes of Health’s addiction researchers did a much more comprehensive study: finding on average states with private liquor stores are 6.9 percent cheaper.

So lower prices, but what about the $412 million the ABC stores generate for the state and local governments in revenues each year?

In Greensboro, for example, liquor sales lead to $4 million dollars in revenue for the city. Local governments use that money for everything from the general fund to education or law enforcement.

A report by the non-profit Government Reform Policy Reason Foundation looked at what happened in West Virgina and Iowa, two states that have made the switch. They found “the current annual revenue streams can be ensured” by adding new taxes and fees for private stores selling liquor.

For or against switching from state-controlled liquor sales, you might want to bottle up those feelings for a while. The bill’s sponsor says if their idea passes, it would be a few years before you see any change.

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