TABC to possibly allow coupons for alcohol purchases

Anna Wiernicki - AUSTIN, TX-The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said regulators are reconsidering a current rule that outlaws coupons for alcoholic beverages. If approved, customers would be able to use coupons on beer and wine sold at Texas stores.

"At the moment it is outlawed for retailers, manufacturers and for wholesalers to offer coupons for the sale of alcoholic beverages," Chris Porter with the TABC said. "So, what this would do is make the coupons legal for the retailers, but still not the manufacturers or the wholesalers."

Porter said the TABC is in the early stages of the process, gathering feedback from stakeholders and both sides of the issue.

"This impacts everybody that has anything to do with alcohol," Porter said. "Consumers would get the chance to get coupons that might possibly reduce the purchase of alcohol at the retail level. However, there are also concerns by the manufacturers that may have to cover the cost of any coupons offered to retailers."

Lance Lively, Executive Director of Texas Package Stores Association, said he is against the rule change because it hurts local businesses.

"In Texas you have approximately 1,600 'Mom-and-Pop' liquor store owners throughout the state," Lively said. "These are the people that would be hurt severely by a couponing stance."

Lively said ultimately this could force local alcohol stores out of business.

"These large multi-state retailers who come in here have the budgets to advertise and put coupons in the paper or mail them directly to consumers," Lively said. "Our smaller retailers, who are the bulk of my members, can't afford to do that. It puts them at a very big competitive disadvantage when a grocery store sells many other items, other than just alcohol."

The TABC said they are seriously reviewing all the input and opinions that they receive before they move forward with the final rule change.

"We are listening to all of these concerns and doing our very best to consider them carefully and weighing our options before we move ahead," Porter said, "We may not change the rule at all. We might offer to make coupons legal for some and illegal for others, and just kind of depends now where we go from here."

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