A new Federal Trade Commission study suggests what consumers miss when states stop them from buying wine online. Ohio State political scientist Alan E. Wiseman and economist Jerry Ellig, acting director of the FTC's Office of Policy Planning, checked out the prices and selection at wine stores in the McLean, Virginia, area. They report:
?Our results indicate that Virginia's direct shipment ban reduces the varieties of wine available to consumers and prevents consumers from purchasing some premium wines at lower prices online. Using a sample of 83 wines judged to be "highly popular" in Wine and Spirits magazine's annual restaurant poll, we find that 15 percent of wines available online were not available from retail wine stores within 10 miles of McLean during the month the data were collected….? We also find that the lowest quoted online price offered significant cost savings over the lowest local retail price in our survey for many types of wine during the month the data were collected.
The FTC study reinforces the case against direct shipment bans, which have been challenged in federal court as violations of the Commerce Clause. Virginia's own ban, which a federal judge found unconstitutional last year, has been repealed, effective July 1.