Customers of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor stores can expect to see prices increase in the coming months on hundreds of wine and liquor products after a vote Wednesday by the Liquor Control Board.
The 3-0 vote to approve suppliers' requests ended an 18-month moratorium on price increases imposed because of the economic downturn.
Board members said producers have been hit with higher materials and shipping costs, and warned that otherwise the selection for consumers might be reduced.
“We at least need to work with the vendors to make sure the product stays on the shelf,” board chairman Joseph Brion said.
It was unclear how the higher prices for suppliers would translate at the retail level, because suppliers would be free to put individual items on sale. In December, about 800 of the 4,400 products in a typical store were marked down, PLCB chief executive Joe Conti said.
The board estimated the increase would translate into $10 million in additional sales, of which about $3 million would be profit and $2 million taxes. Based on recent sales history, the higher prices would result in an estimated overall revenue increase of six-tenths of one percent.
The 313 increases will take effect in February and March. The statewide system sells about 30,000 different types of wine and liquor.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, are pushing to privatize the state-owned liquor store system, an effort that has stalled in recent months.
Brion, a Corbett appointee, called privatization “something that is going to be looked at more closely than it has in the past.”
Another board member, Robert Marcus, said he doubted it will happen, citing efforts to modernize the state store system and improve customer service. Marcus was named to the board by then-Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.
The PLCB has more than 4,000 employees and operates about 610 stores.