Texas Walmarts Won't Be Adding a Liquor Aisle Anytime Soon
It's the only state that prohibits booze sales by publicly-owned companies.
September 1 is going to be a big day for alcohol in Texas. Thanks to changes to the state's laws finalized earlier this year, breweries in the state will finally be allowed to sell beer directly from their taprooms and retailers and restaurant will be able to deliver beer and wine. But one major name won't be able to join in on the boozy fun: In an unrelated, ongoing battle, Walmart has once again been told it won't be able to sell liquor in Texas.
Since 1995, Texas has banned publically-owned retailers from selling liquor — a rule that prevents Walmart, as well as plenty of other major chains, from selling booze in the state. (Beer and wine is allowed.) Last year, a U.S. district judge ruled in favor of Walmart, which sued the Texas Alcohol Commission back in 2015, saying the law was unconstitutional. But last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, sending the matter back to a lower court and putting Walmart's plans to stock spirits back on ice, according to Dallas News. Texas is reportedly the only state that has such a ban on publically-owned companies.
"On behalf of our customers, we are disappointed by the court's ruling which hurts Texas consumers," Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield told the paper. "We are considering all of our options."
Interestingly enough, another change going into effect in Texas next month is that the state has significantly raised the cap on the number of liquor stores that can be held by a single owner. Previously, the max was just five stores; now, it will be 250. Though this change will allow large private businesses to grow within the state — at a rate of 15 stores per year — it doesn't do anything to help publically-traded companies like Walmart.
In response to Walmart's reversed ruling, Lance Lively, executive director of the Package Stores Association, told Dallas News that his group would continue "to fight for the preservation of thoughtful regulation to keep Texans safe, keep sensible restrictions on the retail sale of liquor, and support family-owned liquor store owners against the world's largest corporate entities that seek to inflate their profits by upending sensible state laws that protect consumers." However, now that the liquor store cap is being raised to 250 locations for privately-owned companies, at the very least, boxing out publically-owned companies simply based on their ownership structure feels a bit harder to justify.