Online Program

Washington State spirits privatization: How satisfied were liquor purchasers before and after, and by type of retail store in 2014?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 12:30 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

Thomas K. Greenfield, PhD, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Edwina Williams, MPH, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
William C. Kerr, PhD, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Meenakshi S. Subbaraman, PhD, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Yu Ye, MA, Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Emeryville, CA
Background:  In June, 2012 Washington State ended a wholesale and retail monopoly on liquor, permitting sale of spirits in stores with > 10,000 square feet.  The initiative’s success resulted in a 20% average price increase, but also about five times as many stores selling liquor, including supermarkets, drug stores, liquor superstores, Costco and others.  Our project is evaluating a range of privatization outcomes, with this study focused on pre-post and between-store purchase experiences.  Methods:  Data come from a 2010 Washington State Liquor Control Board survey of liquor purchasers (n=599), and the 2014 baseline wave of an ongoing representative RDD telephone (landline and cell phone) survey (1,202 state residents; n=465 purchasers age 21+).  Satisfaction with retail purchase experiences used 10 WSLCB questions that we retained.  We compared pre to post privatization levels and, after privatization, levels between retail store types.   Analyses used Chi-square and logistic regression.   Results: Overall, most purchase experience features were rated more favorably after privatization (ps < .05 to .001), including product supply, staff knowledge and professionalism, location convenience, store hours, and even prices (although at both times price garnered lowest satisfaction ratings); selection offered, courtesy, and checkout speed were unaltered, and ‘number of staff to help’ declined (p < .001).   Six satisfaction aspects (supply, selection, staff professionalism, operating hours and checkout speed) were highest for liquor superstores, while location convenience favored grocery and drug stores, and price satisfaction favored wholesale (Costco) stores.  Only staff knowledge was highest at liquor stores.   Conclusions:  Generally, satisfaction with liquor purchase experiences increased (6 of 10 features) after privatization.   Availability (location and hours) and various staff qualities appeared to be key for liquor purchasers.  Later we will consider how such experiences as well as harms experienced more broadly (purchasers and non-purchasers) affect sustained support of the privatization and for other alcohol policies.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the Washington State spirits privatization initiative and its history. Identify aspects of the liquor purchasing experience and how these changed from monopoly retail stores to post privatization stores marketing liquor. Compare satisfaction with various aspects of liquor purchasing between types of stores now purveying spirits such as liquor superstores, grocery and drug stores, liquor stores, and wholesale stores like Costco.

Keyword(s): Public Policy, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have undertaken NIH funded studies evaluating effects of alcohol policies, and of alcohol policy development funded by the RWJF. I have also published numerous articles, special editions and book chapters on alcohol policy topics and on studies of program/services satisfaction. I direct a policy-focused alcohol research center. I have previously lived and worked in Washington State.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA) Participated on NABCA Research Contract Project (W. Kerr, PI)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.