For the May CONVENIENCE CONNECT newsletter from the OCSA, click here: MAY 2013 CONVENIENCE CONNECT
It’s been a busy spring for the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, as it works on files ranging from Free Our Beer and contraband tobacco to the Ontario budget and the plastic bag ban in Toronto.
With all of these files on the go, retailers should be aware of the issues and how they affect the industry. Here’s an update on this month’s files:
Over the last year, the OCSA and its partners, Imperial Tobacco Canada (ITCAN) and Rothmans, Benson and Hedges (RBH), have been working hard to ensure a tobacco tax increase wasn’t in the future for Ontarians.
Since last October, every province in Canada has raised tobacco taxation somewhere in the range of $4 to $8 a carton with the hope of correcting contraband tobacco, except for Ontario, which saw no increase.
In Ontario, OCSA efforts including the municipal engagement program, face-to-face meetings with municipal politicians and a meeting with the Minister of Finance at Queen’s Park all played a role in ensuring a tax increase wouldn’t further fuel contraband tobacco.
The OCSA, along with RBH and ITCAN, have turned to in-store technology to help connect retailers and customers with local politicians.
The association has installed iPads in c-stores that allow customers to send letters directly to politicians explaining that contraband is an issue in their community. For example, the OCSA installed 15 iPads in c-stores in the Don Valley West area and 15 iPads in c-stores in Mississauga South. The iPad program asks customers to weigh in on the correction of contraband by sending letters directly from the iPads to their MPPs.
In these two ridings alone, customers sent 700 letters directly from these iPads.
The iPads have since been moved to London West and Windsor–Tecumseh, where there will be by-election ridings in the very near future.
Free Our Beer
The Free Our Beer campaign is in full swing, and already, the OCSA has received support and involvement from 3,000-3,500 c-stores across the province. These retailers have a petition in store and are asking customers to sign it in support of opening up the alcohol retailing system in the province to include convenience stores.
The OCSA expects to see somewhere between 300,000-400,000 signatures by the time the petition wraps up at the end of May, but it requires engaged retailers and engaged customers to make it happen.
The OCSA has also commissioned an economics study by The University of Waterloo that will look at the economics of opening up the system in Ontario. Stay tuned for those results in June.
For more OCSA updates, check out the following links:
Follow the association on Twitter: @ontariocstores