EDMONTON, Alberta (FNS) -- New regulations passed this month by the Alberta provincial government prohibit supermarket chains from selling liquor, even if they put up a wall in their stores to separate the businesses.
The move means that Canadian liquor retailers have won a major battle in their fight against supermarket operators. Quebec is now the only Canadian province allowing liquor sales in food stores.
The government reportedly moved quickly after Canada Safeway here said it wanted to open retail liquor stores in six of its 80 Alberta units.
Under the new government rules, any store larger than 4,000 square feet "will not be allowed to set up a liquor shop within its four walls." Stores under that limit can sell liquor "if the shop is walled off and has a separate entrance."
The decision closed a legal loophole successfully exploited by the Save-On-Foods discount division of Overwaitea Food Group, Vancouver. The courts earlier this year ruled that Save-On-Foods could open a liquor outlet within one store. That single exclusion apparently will stand.
Supermarket chain officials here blasted the government for "establishing an unfair playing field between grocers and private liquor store owners.
"We think the convenience for shoppers would be much greater if they had the ability to buy beer and wine within the four walls of a supermarket as they do just about everywhere in the United States and Europe," said Jim Waters, Canada Safeway vice president.