Christmas cheer may be in short supply

Wine merchants aren’t seeing reds because of troubles at sole shipper

Wine and liquor retailers in Edmonton, Canada, say chronic backlogs at the province’s sole distributor are getting worse and they fear the Christmas rush will bring more frustrations and empty shelves. Store owners say the distributor keeps breaking promises to start delivering on schedule. They also complain that the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission, which employs the company, is not doing enough to get the company on track.

“The situation is horrendous, it is worse than it was two months ago,” Gurvinder Bhatia of Edmonton’s Wines and Spirits Warehouse said. “Now the deliveries are a whole week behind and there is no end in sight. We are going to have to limp through Christmas.”

Slow deliveries have been a problem since mid-summer, and Bhatia estimates his losses at more than $30,000 dollars so far.

“Over Christmas there are going to be thousands of businesses that lose tens of thousands of dollars,” he says. “It is the busiest time, hands down. … It is a loss of sales we can never get back.”

The backlog is happening at Connect Logistics, the company that distributes liquor and wine across the province.

Every bottle sold in Alberta goes through the company’s warehouse in St. Albert, which ships more than 10 million cases of liquor each year.

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