COVID-19 Update: Returns of Alcohol Beverage Products

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COVID-19 Resource Hub

On Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (“WSLCB”) issued guidance temporarily allowing Washington retailers to return products to their distributors and to allow distributors to provide refunds for returned products. In this alert Stoel Rives’ beverage attorneys explain this temporary allowance.

Returns of Alcohol Products

Due to the emergent circumstances, WSLCB is providing approval for distributors to pick up product from businesses impacted by COVID-19, which includes the allowance for distributors to provide a refund for the returned product. This temporary approval of returns, which is not mandatory and is at the distributor’s option, will be effective until April 1, 2020.

If you have any questions about returns of alcohol products or would like assistance negotiating returns of product with your distributor, please contact a Stoel Rives beverage attorney.

For more information regarding the legal impacts of the novel coronavirus, please refer to the Stoel Rives Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Hub.

  • Retail licensees impacted by closures may contact their distributor(s) to request the return of product.
  • If the distributor agrees to pick up product, distributors should email Lieutenant Robert Knowles at with the retail liquor license number(s) and a description of the products to be returned.
  • This temporary allowance does not change the WSLCB’s prohibition against consignment sales. Distributors are still not authorized to exchange product for a different product, per WAC 314-12-140.

Key Contributors

Susan M. Johnson
Claire Mitchell
Craig A. Pacheco
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