Significant majority of Ontarians support proposal to have large convenience stores and grocery stores sell beer under the LCBO banner

 March 4, 2015 – Oakville, Ontario A new poll of Ontarians, conducted by Abacus Data Inc., revealed that 72% support a proposal that would see an expansion of the LCBO’s Agency Store program to allow for more private retailers, like chain convenience stores, to sell beer and compete with The Beer Store. The survey showed that only 15% opposed the idea and 13% had no opinion.

Established in 1962, the LCBO’s Agency Store program provides retail access “in a cost-efficient and socially responsible manner to beverage alcohol consumers.”[1] The proposal put forward to the Ontario Government by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) would see the creation of ‘LCBO Beer Agency Stores’ where private retailers, including convenience stores, could apply for authorization to sell beer – all under the oversight and scrutiny of the LCBO – just as 219 private retailers in Ontario currently do with beer, wine and spirits.

“Among private retailers, no one in Ontario knows more about selling beer responsibly than convenience stores. Ontarians of all political stripes support the Government of Ontario modernizing beer retailing through an expanded partnership with convenience and grocery stores,” said Dave Bryans, CEO, Ontario Convenience Stores Association. “The foreign beer monopoly needs to have competition under a system that actually benefits Ontarians. We’re saying: Let’s do that through the LCBO, with the help of private retailers – like convenience stores – who have the experience retailing beer responsibly.”

Because the vast majority of LCBO’s $1.7 billion profit is earned on the mark-up of alcohol, the OCSA proposal would allow government to grow the dividend it receives from LCBO, while having all capital costs for building or retrofitting new retail locations borne by the private sector.

Ontario’s convenience stores are a strong partner of government, selling 75% of all lottery tickets worth $2.55 billion, and also operating many of Ontario’s 219 LCBO Agency Stores, where we sell alcohol (beer, wine and spirits) in communities throughout the province.

The proposal, if adopted by government, would also help boost important sectors like Ontario’s craft beer industry. OCSA’s proposal also included a request of the government that under the ‘LCBO Beer Agency Store’ framework, contain a mandate that retailers set aside a minimum of 30% of beer retail space for craft beer. This would enshrine OCSA’s commitment to craft brewers in regulation, while significantly improving consumer exposure to Ontario craft beer, and creating new retailing opportunities for Ontario craft brewers.


Survey Data

 Q. The LCBO’s Agency Store Program currently allows private retailers, like grocery and convenience stores, to sell beer and other alcohol under the LCBO name in communities across Ontario. This program offers points of sale for consumers in communities that could not sustain a large government-run LCBO store. Based on what you know about LCBO Agency Stores, do you support or oppose an expansion of the Agency Store program to sell beer in more locations in urban and rural Ontario?


Strongly & Somewhat Support Somewhat & Strongly Oppose Don’t Know / No opinion
All Ontarians 72% 15% 17%
Regional Toronto 72% 11% 12%
GTA 73% 16% 12%
Eastern 75% 13% 12%
Southwestern 70% 18% 12%
Northern 66% 22% 12%
Union Households 78% 11% 10%
Non-Union Households 71% 16% 14%
Ontario Liberal Party Supporters 73% 18% 9%
PC Party of Ontario Supporters 76% 13% 11%
Ontario NDP Supporters 77% 17% 6%


Q. Currently, about 80% of beer in Ontario is sold through the large brewery-owned Beer Store, and about 20% is sold through the government-owned LCBO and about 200 privately run convenience and grocery stores in largely rural locations. Please indicate whether you support or oppose allowing more privately-run retailers to sell beer and compete with The Beer Store in Ontario.


Strongly & Somewhat Support Somewhat & Strongly Oppose Don’t Know / No opinion
All Ontarians 70% 17% 13%
2014 Ontario Vote Toronto 71% 14% 15%
GTA 69% 17% 13%
Eastern 71% 15% 14%
Southwestern 71% 19% 10%
Northern 60% 26% 14%
Union Households 68% 20% 12%
Non-Union Households 70% 16% 14%
Ontario Liberal Party Supporters 69% 22% 10%
PC Party of Ontario Supporters 81% 8% 11%
Ontario NDP Supporters 65% 28% 7%


Abacus Survey Methodology


The online survey was conducted by Abacus Data Inc. with 1,500 Ontarians aged 19 and over from January 14 to 19, 2015. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Ontarians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples.


About OCSA

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) represents convenience stores committed to Responsible Community Retailing. The convenience store industry represents $13 billion in sales annually in Ontario and employs over 69,000 people. Convenience stores are also the largest partner of the Ontario government for the OLG, selling 75% of all lottery tickets in the province and returning billions in tax and gaming revenues to public coffers. More than 3 million people visit convenience stores in communities across Ontario every day.


Media inquiries: John Perenack, (quick response), 416.864.7112 x2233