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Liquor store owners concerned about push for direct-to-consumer alcohol sales

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Liquor Store Association, the Metropolitan Package Store Association, and the Retailers Alliance have raised concerns about Amazon’s push to expand its direct-to-consumer alcohol sales into New York and other states. The groups, which met in Albany on Wednesday, argue that online alcohol purchases are unsafe and bad for business, potentially jeopardizing small business owners. They claim that a leaked internal memo from Amazon dating back to 2020 shows that the company is seeking to expand its alcohol delivery services.

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Currently, New York liquor laws only allow an owner to operate one store, making it difficult for Amazon to deliver directly to consumers. However, a bill is working its way through the Capitol that seeks to change this, which the groups oppose.

In addition to concerns about the impact on small businesses, the groups also claim that there are inadequate checks and balances in place to prevent minors from purchasing alcohol. They argue that direct-to-consumer sales could give underage drinkers easy access to alcohol, citing studies that show as much as 60% of underage consumers get delivered while placing online orders.

However, New Yorkers can already purchase alcohol online from some websites, which is usually delivered by UPS or FedEx. Both companies say their drivers are trained to check ID upon delivery.

Amazon has responded to the concerns, saying that the leaked memo is no longer relevant and that its drivers who deliver alcohol are trained to ensure that deliveries are received by someone who is 21 or older. The company has not commented on its plans for expanding its alcohol delivery services in New York.