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BevMax Joins Total Wine In Disregarding Connecticut’s Minimum Pricing Law

August 30, 2016

In recent days, tensions over Connecticut’s minimum pricing regime for wine and spirits have boiled over, with Total Wine & More challenging the law in federal court and openly advertising products below the state-mandated minimum. Now, Total Wine has been joined in its effort by fellow Connecticut retailer BevMax, which has five locations in the state.

BevMax said in a statement issued late Monday that it’s currently reviewing the pending lawsuit to determine what steps, if any, to take on the legal front. But it noted that it will “immediately offer the cost of acquisition price for certain spirits and may also consider placing newspaper advertisements to promote its offer of products at the cost of acquisition as early as this week,” in open defiance of the law.

“For decades, Connecticut consumers have been forced to pay government mandated minimum per-bottle prices for liquor. These anti-consumer laws have set prices artificially high and have prohibited liquor retailers like BevMax from offering their own competitive pricing structure,” the retailer stated.

The minimum-pricing issue pits large-scale operators like Total Wine and BevMax against Connecticut’s smaller package stores, which have long contended that minimum-pricing allows them to compete on a level playing field with bigger competitors, whose scale affords them wider margins and more flexibility in pricing.

Total Wine and BevMax clearly believe minimum-pricing will eventually be struck down in Connecticut, and they have the backing of Governor Dannel Malloy. But their aggressive strategy also carries risks. Total is already under investigation by the state’s department of consumer protection for advertising certain products below-cost. —Daniel Marsteller

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