Repository logo

Three essays on horizontal regulation limiting alcohol sales




Palardy, Nathan, author
Costanigro, Marco, advisor
Cannon, Joe, committee member
Berning, Josh, committee member
Bayham, Jude, committee member

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


This dissertation considers the impact of loosening horizontal regulations that limit competition among alcohol retailers on producers, retailers, and consumers. A recent trend towards the liberalization of alcohol retail has led many states, including Washington, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, and Colorado, to relax horizontal restrictions and allow for the sale of alcohol at grocery and convenience stores. Prior to the law changes, the sale of almost all alcoholic beverages was restricted to liquor stores. The new retail channels have created opportunities and challenges for alcohol producers and traditional retailers while creating more choices for consumers. The first chapter provides a brief overview of the alcohol industry and regulation in the U.S. The second chapter examines how the legalization of full-strength beer sales in grocery and convenience stores impacted craft brewers in Colorado, a core region for craft beer production. A statewide survey of the marketing strategies of craft breweries revealed that the new retail channels brought limited change to how craft breweries sell beer. Large breweries appear able to leverage their scale and brand recognition to gain access to the grocery stores, while smaller breweries face significant logistical and distribution barriers. Grocery stores captured a substantial share of craft beer sales at the expense of liquor stores. Sales of craft beer in convenience stores remain negligible. The third chapter investigates the effect of liberalized beer sales on Colorado liquor stores. While prior research has examined the effects of alcohol liberalization on liquor stores at the state-level, the impact may vary between rural and urban communities. I exploit a novel dataset containing firm-level foot traffic patterns from SafeGraph Inc. to investigate the impact of liberalizing beer sales on liquor store foot traffic using two empirical approaches: interrupted time series analysis and state space forecasting. The policy change caused liquor store foot traffic to substantially decline in urban counties, but had no impact in rural counties, suggesting that rural liquor store shoppers did not substantially change shopping behavior. I discuss the implications for alcohol retailers, producers, and consumers. In my final chapter, I broaden my analysis of the effect of liberalized alcohol sales on liquor stores to include two additional states: Oklahoma and Kansas. I exploit heterogeneity in state policy to determine whether different levels of alcohol liberalization (e.g. legalizing beer and wine sales outside of liquor stores vs legalizing beer sales only) impacts the magnitude of the effect on consumers' decision to shop at liquor stores. I estimate the effect in each state using firm-level foot traffic data from SafeGraph Inc. and a novel difference-in-differences estimator. I find that alcohol liberalization had a substantial negative impact on liquor store foot traffic in all states, however, my ability to differentiate the impact of different levels of alcohol liberalization was limited. Results can help policy makers weigh the costs to liquor stores against the benefit to consumers.


Rights Access


policy evaluation
store traffic
interrupted time series analysis
alcohol distribution laws
state space forecasting


Associated Publications