Nova Scotians could soon be ordering alcohol to their homes — and it could be coming sooner than they think.
“If we can find a partner that can do this safely and reliably and cost-effectively for customers, then we would like to be able to do this by spring of next year,” said Beverley Ware, a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) in an interview on Tuesday.
Details on what the Crown corporation is looking for are contained in a request for information (RFI) that was issued late on Monday.
Currently, customers can order alcohol through the NSLC online with the customer selecting which NSLC outlet they want to pick up their package at. There is currently no home delivery.
But the RFI details how that might change, with a customer being able to see the progress of their order from being picked up at the NSLC facility it has been prepared from all the through to final delivery.
“Once the order is ready for delivery, the customer is alerted of its estimated time of delivery within a 2-hour timeframe,” the RFI reads.
Ware stresses that the RFI is just a first step and that they’re looking to find out if any company or groups of companies can safely deliver a controlled substance.
“It’s really the initial stages of a fact-finding mission,” she told Global News.
“We really want to know what are the potential options. Our minds are wide open.”
The RFI lays out that any potential partner is supposed to be able to deliver to all areas of the province, seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Age-validation is another key requirement, according to the RFI, with whoever delivers the alcohol order expected to make sure that they’re delivering to a person who is of legal drinking age.
Ware says that the NSLC is looking to meet the needs of Nova Scotians but admits that the delivery of alcohol poses more challenges than the delivery of cannabis in Nova Scotia.
Although the NSLC is the only company legally permitted to retail cannabis and home delivery is an option, the delivery of cannabis is handled through Canada Post.
“When cannabis was introduced, a lot of customers would say, ‘well, why can’t you do this with beverage alcohol?'” Ware said.
“Cannabis, of course, comes in small light packages, whereas beverage alcohol it’s cans, it’s breakable bottles, it’s large containers, it’s heavier. So it’s it’s an entirely different process that would have to be involved.”
The possible introduction of home delivery for alcohol is something the NSLC has been exploring for a while, Ware said, and it won’t require a change in the province’s legislation governing alcohol.
The RFI is set to close on Nov. 10, with the possibility of launching home delivery in the Spring of next year.
Sales continue to rise during COVID-19 pandemic
Tuesday also saw the NSLC release its financial results for the second quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Once again the Crown corporation reported strong growth in sales with $194.5 million in alcohol and $22.1 million in cannabis sales.
Ware says the growth was driven by customers continuing to purchase larger amounts of products while making fewer trips to NSLC stores.
The number of transactions compared to the same time last year decreased by 10.9 per cent while the average basket size in the same period jumped by 21.8 per cent.
The strong sales also resulted in the NSLC making $77.8 million in income during the quarter.