Wal-Mart Takes Texas to Court Over Liquor Sales
Wal-Mart's court fight to sell liquor at its stores in Texas looks to be back on track, but the courtroom is getting crowded. A federal appeals court is allowing a trade group representing liquor store operators to join a stalled federal lawsuit that the nation's largest retailer filed against the Texas agency that hands out permits to sell booze by the bottle. In trying to crack Texas' restrictions on package liquor licenses, some dating to the end of Prohibition, Wal-Mart contends that some of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's rules amount to unconstitutional discrimination.
Total Retail's Take: This is the continuation of a February 2015 lawsuit filed by Wal-Mart to get into the liquor business in Texas. The retailer is already the largest seller of beer and wine in Texas, and wants the opportunity to tap into the $14 billion alcohol market in the state. What's stopping Wal-Mart is a Texas law that limits liquor license holders to no more than five package stores in the state. Furthermore, there's a rule that mandates that a publicly traded company — like Wal-Mart — can't hold separate beer and wine and liquor licenses. Predictably, a trade group representing liquor store operators in Texas opposes Wal-Mart in the suit. Does free enterprise win out, and Wal-Mart can begin selling liquor at its Texas stores? Time will tell.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.