Shortfalls Could Benefit Grocers

Budget deficits in New York, New Jersey and Delaware might not be a bad thing for grocers. In fact, the gaps could spell opportunity for retailers hoping to sell alcohol in those states. A bill introduced here this month would allow Delaware grocers to sell beer and wine in exchange for a one-time $100,000 licensing fee, which could result in $10 million in revenue for the state. Proceeds

NEWARK, Del. — Budget deficits in New York, New Jersey and Delaware might not be a bad thing for grocers. In fact, the gaps could spell opportunity for retailers hoping to sell alcohol in those states.

A bill introduced here this month would allow Delaware grocers to sell beer and wine in exchange for a one-time $100,000 licensing fee, which could result in $10 million in revenue for the state. Proceeds would also come from a $5,000 renewal fee.

Hopes for a wine at grocery proposal — estimated to create $130 million in revenue — were dashed in New York earlier this year when Gov. David Patterson inexplicably dropped the measure from his budget. But now state Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Rochester, is giving it another go. He introduced a new bill last month.

“Revenues coming into the state are not as strong as was budgeted for,” said Jim Rogers, president of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State.

The bill is different from others defeated in the state, since it would lift several restrictions on liquor stores — a group whose lobbying efforts helped kill past proposals.

Similar legislation is being considered in New Jersey where $58.4 million in revenue could be generated through the sale of licenses, and taxes resulting from additional alcohol sales.

“New Jersey is facing a budget deficit like we've never seen before,” said Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council, of the $9 billion shortfall.