The big issue the Atlantic Convenience Stores Association (ACSA) is very concerned about is the tobacco tax increase in the Atlantic provinces. All four provincial governments announced in their budgets that they are increasing tobacco taxes, and it caught us completely off guard. Tax per carton is going up $4 in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, and $3 in Prince Edward Island.
We believe that this is going to have a very negative impact on legal tobacco sales in all four provinces, and that it will send consumers to Quebec and the United States to buy tobacco, or to the criminal network to buy contraband tobacco. Based on past tobacco tax increases, we also expect lottery sales to be impacted, as all sales associated with the adult customer will decline.
Energy drink regulations
The Nova Scotia government has been looking at placing age restrictions on energy drinks, and we have been pushing this government to sit down and discuss the issue before they make any decisions, as the ACSA represents about 70 percent of the total energy drink sales in the province. This government needs to be educated about these products, especially in terms of a comparison to other products that aren’t restricted or regulated.
Fighting for minimum gas margins
We’re still working to establish minimum gas margins in New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the only two provinces under a regulated gas system in Canada that do not have a minimum margin in place. It has reached a critical point; we’re hearing a lot of negative information from many of our gas retailers, especially in the St. John’s, NL area. We are working with Grant Thornton to conduct a study on the health of the New Brunswick gas industry, so we can provide the information we need to convince the government the current system is not viable, and a minimum margin needs to be put in place to keep these operators in business.
Election buzz in Nova Scotia
We think there will be a fall election in Nova Scotia, so we have been meeting with the opposition leaders. I met with Stephen McNeil of the Liberal Party and Jamie Baillie of the Conservative Party to learn about the types of election platforms they’ll be using, and to get an idea about whether they’ll be willing to work with the ACSA going forward.
Other ACSA notes:
The ACSA and NACDA are teaming up once again for the Maritime and Newfoundland golf tournaments. The Maritime tournament will take place June 13th at Fox Creek Golf Club in Dieppe, NB, and the Newfoundland tournament will return to Clovelly Golf Club in St. John’s on June 27th.
It’s the Canadian Convenience Stores Association’s SOI survey time again, and we’re asking all of our members to please complete the survey form. Any retailers who have not received the survey can email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an electronic copy.
We have launched a new website! Retailers can visit our new-and-improved site and check out our new logo at theacsa.ca.
You can now follow us on Twitter @TheACSA.