Grocery giants Kroger and Safeway-Albertsons are giving up the fight to get voters to OK full-strength beer and wine sales in all Colorado supermarkets.
The campaign Your Choice Colorado has stopped collecting signatures to get a question about changing Colorado’s alcohol laws on the November ballot.
The group is now focusing on understanding how new alcohol-related legislation will impact residents and supermarkets, Your Choice Colorado campaign manager Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa said Friday in a statement.
The Denver Business Journal obtained an internal King Soopers memo Thursday that announced the grocery retailer was folding its push to get beer and wine on supermarket shelves.
Safeway-Albertsons did not immediately return a request for comment. King Soopers — an affiliate of Ohio-based Kroger Co. — directed questions about the campaign to Your Choice Colorado.
Last month, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill that allows grocery stores to slowly phase in the sale of full-strength beer and then wine and liquor.
The legislation allows grocery chains to add 20 licenses over 20 years, with up to five locations selling full-strength beer in 2017. However, they would need to buy out liquor store owners within 1,500 feet of the store, giving a measure of economic protection to those businesses that haven’t had direct competition.
After those 20 years are up, all limits go away and grocery stores can sell in as many locations as they like.
The law goes into effect Friday.
“While the bill isn’t perfect and we continue to believe that Coloradans deserve better, it does change the old status quo and will allow people more access to the Colorado craft beer and wine that they love,” Georgie Aguirre-Sacasa said.
The so-called compromise bill was more restrictive than the change grocery stores were proposing through Your Choice Colorado.
Changes proposed by Your Choice Colorado would have allowed all grocery stores to sell full-strength beer and wine, but not liquor. The proposal had fewer protections for existing liquor stores and presumably would have changed Colorado’s alcohol industry less gradually.
Prior to the compromise bill, Colorado only allowed grocery stores to sell beer with as much as 3.2 percent alcohol by weight – 4 percent by volume. In a chain of grocery stores like King Soopers and Safeway, only one site in the state could sell full-strength beer, wine and liquor.
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