Retailers Embrace End of Cook County Soda Tax

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Retailers Embrace End of Cook County Soda Tax

By Jim Dudlicek - 12/01/2017

Chicago-area grocery retailers are hoping that any business they lost as a result of Cook County, Ill.’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages returns now that the tax’s repeal has taken effect.

“On behalf of the retail community and the consumers they serve on a daily basis, we are thankful the day has finally arrived when the sweetened beverage tax repeal takes effect,” said Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which has offices in the capital, Springfield, as well as Chicago. “Retailers must now attempt to bring customers back to their stores, as there is always the danger with these sort of policies that consumers may have already established new shopping patterns.”

Retailers reported sales taking a hit after the tax took effect in August, as consumers, particularly those living near bordering counties, bought beverages in areas not subject to tax and, as long as they were there, bought other groceries as well.

The tax, promoted as a public-health effort, met heavy public resistance, particularly after officials acknowledged that it was designed to help fill budget gaps in cash-strapped Cook County, Illinois’ largest and already most heavily taxed area. Overwhelming political pressure led to the tax’s repeal, despite its continued support by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, whose tie-breaking vote led to the enactment of the tax.

County officials are still grappling with the impact of the tax’s demise, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.