Liquor is sold in Saskatchewan through a mixed system of government and operated outlets and privately and operated outlets (private full-line liquor stores, off-sales and franchises).
Government applies a mark-up to all alcohol products sold in Saskatchewan regardless of how liquor is retailed. The rate at which government chooses to tax alcohol has substantially more impact on government revenue than how alcohol is retailed.
Saskatchewan currently has 75 government stores in 60 communities, employing approximately 750 people, including full-time, part-time and casual workers.
Of the 75 stores SLGA currently operates, 50 of the buildings are owned by SLGA and the remaining 25 stores are leased. Of the 50 stores SLGA owns, 44 are located outside the four largest cities.
SLGA stores currently serve two kinds of customers: retail and commercial. Retail customers buy alcohol from store for personal consumption. SLGA stores and the existing government warehouse also supply products to commercial customers. Commercial customers are businesses that are involved in the resale of alcohol, either through on-table sales in the business (for example, restaurants, bars) or for personal consumption (franchises, off sales).
Government stores sell at consistent prices across the province. The number of products carried in government stores range from approximately 500 SKUs in smaller, rural stores to 2,300 SKUs in larger stores.
Franchises are businesses that are licensed by the provincial government to sell alcohol in communities not served by a government store. For the most part, franchises sell a selection of alcohol products sold in government liquor stores at the same retail price as government stores. The franchises receive a portion of the price of each product, known as a commission. This effectively provides the equivalent of a discount, similar to how private stores receive a discount. Franchisees also have the option to special order and sell products not available in government stores. Franchisees can set any price for those products, subject to a minimum price applied to all alcohol sold in Saskatchewan.
The number of SKUs carried by franchises range from 100 in some stores all the way to approximately 2,000 SKUs.
There are about 190 franchises in Saskatchewan.
Permission to operate an off-sale allows an authorized bar or restaurant to sell wine, beer and spirits for personal consumption. Traditionally, off-sales sold cold beer. In 1987, off-sales were allowed to sell wine and coolers, with the addition of spirits in 2002. There are approximately 450 off sales throughout Saskatchewan.
Off-sales receive a volume-based discount on beer purchased in cans and bottles through private beer distributors. There is no discount on any product (beer, wine or spirits) purchased from SLGA.
Off-sales can set their own prices. Some off-sales price their product the same as SLGA during store or franchise hours. Once nearby liquor stores or franchises close for the day, off-sale prices tend to increase. Off-sales that are not close to SLGA stores or franchises can sell at any price, usually higher than SLGA since there is little or no competition.
Private Full-Line Liquor Stores
In late 2012, the provincial government implemented a new policy to have the private sector meet the need for future liquor stores rather than using public funds to build them.
As a result of population growth in Regina and Saskatoon, there was a need for new stores. Proposals were sought from the private sector to build and operate two liquor stores in each of Regina and Saskatoon. The successful private sector bidders were:
- Sobeys – Regina Rochdale (under development) and Saskatoon Stonebridge (opened September, 2014);
- Saskatoon Co-op – Saskatoon Blairmore (opened March, 2014); and
- Willow Park Wines and Spirits – Regina Harbour Landing (open in its current Albert Street location while the Harbour Landing location is developed).
Private stores receive a 16 per cent discount from SLGA prices or the SLGA determined base price of alcohol. They have the ability to set their own retail prices, subject to the provincial minimum price. Private stores can sell all products, including SLGA listings, cold beer and special-order products, but must source all products through SLGA’s warehouse or private beer distributors.
Government's Additional Roles in the Liquor System
In addition to being a retailer of alcohol, government plays a primary role in warehousing and wholesaling alcohol, regulating private sector retailers and promoting social responsibility and public safety.
||Private Full-Line Stores
||Government serve retail and commercial customers
||Private businesses licensed by provincial government to sell alcohol
||Bars and restaurants authorized to sell alcohol for personal consumption
||Stand alone, private-sector owned businesses
|No. of outlets
||3 open and one under development
||100 – 2,000 SKUs
||Varies by outlet
||Set prices across the province
||Same retail prices as government stores
Special order products subject to a minimum price
Receive a commission from SLGA on product sold
|Can set own prices
Receive a volume-based discount on beer purchased in cans and bottles through private beer distributors
No discount on any product purchased from SLGA
|Can set own retail prices, subject to provincial minimum price
Receive a 16 per cent discount from SLGA
||Hours vary between 9:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Monday to Saturday and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
|Can sell liquor between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Seven days a week
|Can sell liquor between 9:30 a.m. and 3 a.m.
Must be open at least six hours per day for five days a week.
|Can be open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Seven days a week