National retailers renew effort to repeal liquor law

Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens want to sell liquor and groceries under the same roof

Jan.January 03, 2016 11:00 AM

National retailers including Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens are renewing their campaign to repeal a state law prohibiting the sale of liquor in stores selling groceries.

The retailers have tried in the last two years to convince Florida lawmakers to repeal a state law that restricts the sale of spirits to liquor stores. State legislators have filed bills in the Florida House and Senate that would repeal the Prohibition-era law, but they have barely advanced.

Florida retailers that sell groceries and liquor must do so in separate stores with a separate entrances and a wall between them. Publix, Winn-Dixie and other grocers own liquor stores near their supermarkets. Wal-Mart and Target also have separate liquor stores at a small number of locations in Florida.

Lakeland-based Publix and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits have created a lobbying group called Florida Businesses Unite to maintain the status quo on liquor sales.

The group’s resistance contributed to the failure of a legislative effort last year to allow the installation of doors in walls separating grocery retailers and liquor stores.

Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for Florida Businesses Unite, told the Orlando Sentinel that “major policy changes like the fight over the wall, where there is no constituency asking for it and no real need, negatively impact Florida businesses and usually trace back to out-of-state companies seeking to change the law to better fit their business models.” [Orlando Sentinel] — Mike Seemuth

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