The liquor store industry in Australia has gone through a lot of interesting changes over the last few decades. This has been brought about by a changing society and numerous legislative amendments introduced over the years. Another major factor in the changes to the liquor store industry has been the influence of the large publicly listed companies (e.g. Woolworths and Coles).
The liquor store industry is a mature industry but has been helped significantly by drink-driving laws and the preference for new packaged drinks (e.g. mixed spirits) by the 18-30 year-old age group.
Drink-driving laws caused the proportion of liquor sold over the bar at hotels to fall significantly. People now buy more packaged alcohol to drink at home. Also, the swing away from beer to wine has accentuated this movement to packaged alcohol as most wine sales are packaged.
Independent liquor stores fall into two categories. In the past, the bulk of liquor stores were independent stand-alone operators. However, the number of these liquor stores has fallen significantly as they have joined buying or marketing groups. This became necessary to obtain exposure in the marketplace and to compete on price with the two major players.
The bottle shop and supermarket stores generally differ somewhat from the stand-alone liquor stores. In general, these liquor stores have a limited range of alcohol, concentrate on high turnover products, have limited service, and compete on price.
Stand-alone liquor stores generally survive the best on convenience; have a wide range of products and importantly product knowledge and service. One of the major advantages of any liquor store is its location.
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