Shoppers alter purchases amid Philly beverage tax

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On Day 4 of the beverage tax in Philadelphia, some would-be shoppers avoided what they normally buy.

"I would have me some Gatorade water and I would have me some Pepsi sodas. ... Not this time," said Allison Scott King of North Philadelphia.

Confusion in the grocery aisles, according to the industry group that legally challenged the tax.

"Despite the city spending more than $2 million on outreach efforts, people still don't understand what's going on," said Anthony Campisi, No Philly Grocery Tax.

Shoppers in East Falls surprised by the size of the tax. For example, a 99 cent bottle of soda.

"Something that was going to cost me 99 cents is now going to cost me $1.62," said Rosie Blue of Germantown. "Wow."

Jeff Brown of Brown's ShopRite says larger Value Paks are especially hard hit by the one-and-a-half-cents-per-ounce tax.

"This package is subject to $3.04 in tax. ... This will be over $10. I don't think I can sell this item at that price," said Brown, ShopRite.

With stores inside and outside the city, Brown's stores are among those listing the tax per item to educate shoppers.

"If you shop in our Cheltenham store that's not in the city, and it doesn't have that cost, so how else would I explain that difference in price?" said Brown.

While the city disagrees with the industry over how much, it admits some Philadelphia stores could be hurt financially. It says it has a tax credit plan that could help stores that suffer, but offer healthier beverages.

"I don't think we know what the exact business impact will be. We will continue to monitor all of the tax returns and information, but taxes do have an impact on economic activity," said Department Revenue Commissioner Marissa Waxman.
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