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Fair competition

Published March 04. 2013 4:00AM

We urge the state legislature to complete the reforms it began two years ago to bring the liquor sales industry in Connecticut into the 21st century. Recall that lawmakers adopted a proposal by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to finally end the blue law that prohibited the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Since then package store owners report little increase in business, saying their sales are now spread over seven days instead of six, while grocery stores selling beer have seen some increase as consumers grab a six-pack during their Sunday food shopping.

While expecting small increases in sales, we never saw Sunday openings as a way to generate a big boost in sales and resulting tax dollars, but rather as a step to benefit consumers. Furthermore, there was no justification for the prohibition.

What the legislature did not do two years ago, however, was heed the governor's call for lifting price controls and licensing limitations that prevent robust competition. Once again the Malloy administration is pushing to end the price controls, and we again voice support for the idea.

Small package store owners argue that without regulatory protection big-box retailers and large outlets, which can achieve savings through bulk purchasing, will be able to underprice their mom-and-pop stores. But the purpose of government regulation should be to assure fair competition, not pick sides. No no other retail sector in Connecticut receives special price control protection. It forces consumers to pay more.

Small package stores can compete in other ways, offering a level of personal service not found at big retailers and they are often located conveniently in their communities. Several stores could cooperate to make bulk purchases and pass along savings to their customers. It is time to move to open competition.

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