LAKELAND, Fla. -- Signaling a growing emphasis on liquor retailing, Publix Super Markets here has opened a wine and spirits store in Miami, and has added liquor to its online shopping service.
Located at 14599 South Dixie Highway, Publix Wine & Spirits offers a full line of liquor, as well as fine wines and imported and domestic beer. Publix plans to open a second store in Kissimmee by the end of this month.
The Miami liquor store is located adjacent to a Publix supermarket. In accordance with Florida law, it has a separate entrance. It operates from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.
Publix said it opened the store in response to consumer demand. Publix reportedly operated several liquor stores in the late 1980s, but closed them before the end of that decade. According to a published report, consumer research showed the time was right to get back into the business.
"We're continually looking for ways to offer our customers the products and services they are requesting," Maria Rodamis, a Publix spokeswoman, said in a prepared statement. Rodamis declined to comment further.
Along with opening Publix Wine & Spirits, the retailer has added a spirits store to PublixDirect, its online shopping and home-delivery service.
"We have a number of items to help you stock your bar or give as gifts," reads the Web site for PublixDirect, www.publixdirect.com.
PublixDirect currently offers about 40 liquor items, including brandy, cordials, gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey. Selections include top-shelf brands like Johnnie Walker Red, Absolut Vodka and Dewars White Label.
The site also has select items on sale. Recent specials included Bacardi Light Rum, 1.75 liter, for $19.99, reduced from $22.59; Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, 1.75 liter, $21.99, from $25.99; and Dewars White Label, $31.99, from $41.79.
To buy spirits at PublixDirect, customers must first make a $50 minimum purchase in the grocery section of the Web site. Florida law requires that grocery and spirit purchases remain separate from each other, so customers will get two separate charges on their credit card -- one for groceries and one for spirits. There is no minimum requirement for spirits purchases. Publix is currently waiving the $7.95 service fee for the first 30 days of deliveries.
Chuck Cerankosky, analyst, McDonald Investments, Cleveland, said the retailer's foray into online liquor sales makes sense.
"It fills out the product offering," he said.
Depending on how Publix structures fulfillment, the brick-and-mortar store could complement its online venture.
"I'm assuming that they will pick out of the store. So if they plan to open more liquor stores, it makes it that much easier to fill orders," he said.
Cerankosky noted, however, that the move poses certain challenges. For instance, the retailer now has to comply with strict state liquor regulations, including preventing sales to minors.