A ShopRite store in West Philadelphia will close in March, its owner announced Wednesday, placing blame on Philadelphia’s tax on soda and other sweetened beverages for a 23 percent loss in sales that has made the store unprofitable.
“This store is closing because of Jim Kenney’s beverage tax,” Jeff Brown, president and CEO of Brown’s Superstores Inc., said in an interview Wednesday morning as workers hung banners announcing the store will close it doors.
Brown said the store, near the edge of the city at 67th Street and Haverford Avenue, has experienced a drop in overall sales since the beverage tax went into effect and has been running at a net annual loss of more than $1 million.
The announcement amounts to the latest attack on the city’s 1.5-cent-per-ounce beverage tax that went into effect two years ago. Brown is broadcasting his reasons for closing the store with a large banner declaring it “a result of the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.”
The tax, Mayor Kenney’s signature legislation, funds pre-K; community schools; and improvements to parks, recreation centers, and libraries. It also comes at the start of an election year; Kenney will have to defend the levy as he seeks a second term, and super PACs on both sides of the issue could pour money into the mayoral and City Council races.
In 2016 Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to enact a tax on soda, and two years after taking effect, the tax remains controversial — and closely watched by other cities. Several other cities have enacted similar taxes since Philadelphia passed its version. Kenney’s administration has defended the tax as a means of fighting poverty by investing in Philadelphia’s children and attacked the beverage industry for pouring millions of dollars into opposing it….