Closed B.C. Hospitality Businesses Permitted to Sell Liquor Inventory

Author: Tessa Rowland

Update: The Liquor Distribution Branch let this policy expire on July 15, 2020 and will continue to review and assess other actions to support the industry as needed.

British Columbia’s Liquor Distribution Branch (“LBD”) announced on June 5, 2020 that licensed hospitality businesses unable to re-open at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic will be permitted to distribute their liquor inventory for sale to licensed operating hospitality businesses and private liquor stores.

Pursuant to the “Private Sale of Liquor During COVID-19 Pandemic” policy and corresponding policy directive (together, the “policy”), this temporary measure will remain in effect until July 15, 2020 or as otherwise directed by the LDB based on their ongoing evaluation of the pandemic.

The policy provides a novel revenue stream and bolstered support to those licensed hospitality businesses that have temporarily closed. Private liquor stores that have temporarily closed, however, are unable to sell their existing inventory under the policy and are only permitted to purchase. Prior to passing the policy, the LBD required all liquor stock used in the hospitality industry and private liquor stores to be purchased directly from LBD warehouses. In the event a licensed hospitality business wished to complete a private liquor sale, all private liquor sales required the LBD to act as a middle-man between the private supplier and the ultimate purchaser. While the policy does not amend the prohibition on licensed hospitality businesses purchasing homemade or U-Brew alcohol, as outlined in the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, it does waive the 5% administrative fee charged by the LDB for private sales.

Provided licensees price their sales equal to or above the LDB’s minimum wholesale price, sellers may direct their own sale prices.

The LDB’s minimum wholesale prices are as follows:

  • Spirits – $23.15 per litre and $11.80 per litre for liqueurs;
  • Wine – $5.30 per litre;
  • Refreshments (being cider or coolers) – $2.20 per litre; and
  • Beer – $2.60 per litre if packages and $1.95 per litre if draught.

Parties wishing to complete a private sale under the policy must complete and submit to the LDB the “Private Sale of Liquor Agreement for Hospitality Licensees” posted on the LDB website. All transactions are completed at the risk and sole expense of the parties with joint and several indemnification of the LDB.