New Mexico's 1998 drive-up liquor window closure. Study II: economic impact on owners


Sandra C. Lapham
Behavioral Health Research Center of  the Southwest
612 Encino Place NE
NM 87102
Tel: 505 244 3099
Fax: 505 244 3408


Aims  This study examined the economic impact of the New Mexico legislative action closing drive-up liquor windows on the retail establishments that operated them.

Design  A telephone survey was conducted 20 months after the closure seeking information and owners’ opinions about how their outlets had changed since the closure and how this affected their business. In addition, 2 years of aggregated pre- and post-closure total gross receipts revenues were obtained from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department, with convenience stores as a comparison group.

Findings  Interviews were completed for 149 of 220 establishments. Over one-quarter of former drive-up liquor windows (28%) had been converted to ‘step-in’ sales, defined as an outside door where customers can stop and enter the premises while their car is running. Almost two-thirds (61%) of owners reported decreased annual gross revenues following closure, with a reported average 15% reduction in alcohol sales. This is consistent with findings of decreased gross receipts for operators of non-urban, but not urban, drive-up liquor windows compared to convenience store gross receipts. Almost three-quarters (72%) of those surveyed would re-open the drive-up window if the law were rescinded.

Conclusion  Over one-quarter of the drive-up owners converted to step-in alcohol sales that still allow a form of drive-up liquor sales. Despite this, the forced closure of New Mexico's drive-up liquor windows negatively impacted total sales and liquor sales revenues of establishments that operated them.