The New Hampshire Grocers Association (NHGA) recently supported a state Senate bill that would ban out-of-state, direct wine shipments to consumers. NHGA supports allowing New Hampshire supermarkets and retailers to maintain their current level of wine sales to consumers.
NHGA President John Dumais says the ban would keep the tax revenue and food traffic in New Hampshire stores. He adds that out-of-state shippers do not pay sufficient taxes and that grocery stores miss out on lost sales.
Last week, the New Hampshire Senate Commerce committee considered whether to approve the ban on wine shipments to New Hampshire consumers from out-of-state wine retailers. The Commerce Committee voted 5-0 to kill the bill, but a full Senate vote is expected on Feb. 15.
Senate Bill 353 would strip New Hampshire consumers of the right to receive shipments from out-of-state wine retailers, wine auction houses and wine-of-the-month clubs.
The bill originated at the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica said at a Jan. 16 hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee that the purpose of the bill was to protect New Hampshire retailers from competition.
“Senate Bill 353 is an anti-competitive and anti-consumer bill that would, contrary to Chairman Mollica’s testimony, hugely impact New Hampshire wine lovers,” said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers.
“New Hampshire consumers currently source wines they can’t find locally from more than 80 wine stores and auction houses across the country. This bill will completely shut them off from receiving those wines.”
“The most remarkable thing about this bill is that it is trying to fix a problem that does not exist,” said Wark. “New Hampshire residents don’t purchase wines from out-of-state sources and pay the (heavy) shipping costs if they can find what they want locally. Consumers in the Granite State always look for the wines they want locally first, and if they can’t access them, then they look outside the state. That’s not a lost sale for the state of New Hampshire, but rather a better choice for consumers and additional tax revenue for the state it otherwise would not have received.”