PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Some Philadelphia supermarkets and beverage distributors say they’re gearing up for layoffs because the city’s new soda tax has cut beverage sales by 30 percent to 50 percent, worse than the city predicted.
An owner of six supermarkets tells The Philadelphia Inquirer he expects to cut 300 jobs, and a soft drink distributor predicts a 20 percent workforce reduction.
City officials expect business to rebound once customers get over sticker shock. They suggest the industry may be engaging in fearmongering to stop the spread of the tax to other cities.
Mayor Jim Kenney pushed through the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened and diet beverages to pay for nearly 2,000 pre-kindergarten slots and other programs. He tells the Inquirer he didn’t think it’s possible for the industry “to be any greedier.”
The tax amounts to $1.44 on a six-pack of 16-ounce bottles.