I was speaking with a liquor store owner about a past disciplinary matter. The licensee indicated that he had been issued a violation because he had used the word “free” in association with the sale of alcoholic beverages. I was curious about the violation because I was not familiar with a section of the Alcoholic Beverage Law prohibiting the use of that term. I conferred with the Counsel’s Office for the Authority and confirmed the following for off -premises retail licensees:
A liquor store is not prohibited from selling wine or liquor below the wholesale price.
There is no rule governing the use of the word “free” with respect to liquor stores.
Loyalty programs are commonplace in the retail world. I wondered how loyalty programs that offer discounts like BOGO to regular customers would be viewed by the Authority given the stance it has against selling alcohol below half-price for on premise retailers. Licensing told me that there are no rules or guidelines whatsoever concerning the use of loyalty programs by off-premises retailers.
Licensees must operate responsible businesses that support the responsible consumption of alcohol. If you have questions about practices for operating your licensed business, you can contact an experienced liquor law attorney or even the Authority itself to get clarification and ensure you are in compliance.