As we are approaching Christmas time, I decided to accumulate data on pre-tax prices for wines and spirits to compare how large is the difference between Quebec – which has a government monopoly over retail – and other areas where sales are more liberalized. In my case, I have chosen Britain and the United States. The first because sale of alcohol is virtually unregulated and selling hours are also liberalized. The second because many states have also liberalized retail (and privatized the state owned operator) and because selling wine over the internet falls under the commerce clause. This means that the online retailing of alcohol is virtually liberalized as well, hence making comparisons with Quebec even more valid. What are the results? Quebec has amazingly higher prices than in the US and moderately higher prices than in Great Britain (all though this might be because of a measurement bias because of purchasing power parities, which would widen the gap even more). In gold you see the difference for spirits and in red, the difference for wines.
I will be discussing this tommorow on CHOI radio X (www.radiox.com) with Dany Houle at 6PM.