TOO MUCH OF A CONVENIENCE?

The next time you walk to your corner store you may be able to leave with a six-pack of beer with your chocolate bar. One organisation is pushing to have alcohol sold at local convenience stores and service stations, starting with a Productivity Commission enquiry.

The Milk Moustache’s Lauren Fitzpatrick reports.

VO: Buying alcohol could become a lot more convenient if the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores get their way.

The Association has put forward a proposal to the Productivity Commission that convenience stores and service stations be allowed to sell wine, beer and spirits.

Jeff Rogut: It is a category that’s worth about $16 billion dollars, from which the convenience industry in Australia has been excluded.

VO: Jeff Rogut is the Executive Director of the Association, representing 4,500 convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Starmart, Caltex and BP.

Jeff Rogut: All of our stores are either licensed or franchised, so that means they are family groups and families really depending on that store for survival. And as an industry we look to the long-term sustainability of the industry, and we see the ability to participate in our category, as one that offers us an opportunity.

VO: Rogut says the sale of alcohol is essential for convenience stores to survive. The supermarket war between Coles and Woolworths isn’t helping.

(Coles advertisement)

Jeff Rogut: Our stores have had to compete with the supermarkets who have dropped or dramatically dropped their prices of bread and milk as an example, but there is nobody who is sort of defending our right to survive.

VO: But health groups say the price war is no excuse, claiming the potential increase in alcohol availability is dangerous.

David Templeman: The last thing we need to do is exacerbate the problem that we’ve got with alcohol related harm.

VO: David Templeman is the CEO of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia.

David Templeman: The cost of alcohol related harm in Australia is now $36 billion a year, 3,000 people die a year in Australia, 70,000 people getting some sort of hospital presentation, and 10,000 are getting ongoing treatment.

VO: Although the convenience store industry doesn’t want to apply for a 24-hour licence, Templeman says serving alcohol in a one-person managed outlet will have its problems. He says that for retailers such as Coles and Woolworths, managing the process is simpler as they have enclosed liquor stores and numerous staff in each store trained in the responsible service of alcohol.

David Templeman: How on earth would a person, running one of those small convenience stores, they’ve got enough on their plate as it is, and yet selling packaged liquor to people who most likely, in certain times of the day or night, would be possibly intoxicated, there becomes the issue about responsible serving and sale of alcohol.

VO: But Jeff Rogut says the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores is confident in their proposal.

Jeff Rogut: Our industry is comprised of small businesses, they are responsible retailers, and if you look at the way that they manage the sale of tobacco, as an example, there are various trainings, there are regulations in force that we adhere to.

VO: The campaign has been running for some time, and several Australians have chosen sides.

VOX POP: It’s an awesome idea. I have a service station right near my house so I think that would be very convenient. 

VOX POP: I think it’s better to have a normal traditional outlet, more than a petrol station or corner store managing alcohol.

VOX POP: It doesn’t matter because people are going to drink regardless of who sells it and where they sell it. It’s all part of the Aussie culture. We get together, eat, drink and have fun. 

VO: The Productivity Commission is expected to make its final recommendations to the federal government in November.

This is Lauren Fitzpatrick, reporting for The Milk Moustache. 

One Response to “TOO MUCH OF A CONVENIENCE?”

  1. Cass November 15, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    No real need for selling alcohol at the corner store in most large centres! Maybe useful in small places?

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