Last year was a banner year for liquor sales in the province with the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission selling over $95 million worth of booze.
Gross sales at the commission for the 2011-2012 fiscal year were up over $3.3 million from the previous year, allowing the commission to increase its transfers to the provincial government for the 15th consecutive year.
Over $41.5 million was transferred from the liquor commission to the province in sales and health taxes – the best year ever in contributions to the provincial treasury, according to the commission’s 2012 annual report.
Jamie MacLeod, director of corporate services for the PEILCC, said the year’s revenue increases were the result of increased product selection and new marketing initiatives.
“Over the last two or three years in particular our in-store marketing campaigns with suppliers have probably increased about 30 or 40 per cent,” MacLeod said.
“Also over the last year alone the number of listing of products in our stores has substantially increased.”
Total beer sales volumes were down compared to 2011, while the wine category experienced strong growth. Wine sales in P.E.I. have been increasing every year, and have grown by 12.6 per cent since 2009.
MacLeod said the increasing popularity of wine is not just a local trend but also a national one. As well, many of the new products added to P.E.I. liquor stores this past year were new wine varieties.
MacLeod said the last year’s increased revenues are also due in part to increased prices, placing P.E.I. in line with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, as well as wage controls and a substantial increase in fees charged to alcohol suppliers for promotions.
The commission hopes to build on these increases, with budget documents projecting growth of gross sales to be over $103 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
Six agency stores that opened at the end of the summer are expected help to contribute to this projected growth. Tourism Minister Robert Henderson said last spring the agency stores were added in order to cut operating costs and increase revenues.
But just how much these stores will add to the commission’s bottom line remains a question mark, MacLeod said.
“When we looked at initially moving to expanding our agency store portfolio from just the one in Morell, we contacted our colleagues in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and quite frankly we got three different answers in terms of percentage growth,” MacLeod said.
“They all indicated growth… but the numbers they presented us varied substantially.”
P.E.I.’s agency stores have been permitted to sell alcohol later than provincial stores remain open on some days. They can also sell liquor on many provincial statutory holidays, with the exception of Christmas day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday and before noon on Remembrance Day.
“Certainly we would expect in the coming year that these stores will add to our bottom line, but we also have to bear in mind that there will be some loss of sales from our corporate stores,” MacLeod said.
The P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission served over 2.8 million people in 2011-2012.