As an e-commerce seller with 10+ years experience managing online retail accounts, I often get questions about big box store policies. One that comes up frequently – what are Walmart‘s rules around purchasing alcohol in 2023?
I‘ll summarize it upfront:
- You must be 21+ with valid government photo ID to buy alcohol at Walmart
- Employees can refuse sales if you appear intoxicated, are with a minor, or lack proper ID
- Most states allow alcohol purchases at self-checkout, with ID verification by staff
- Unopened alcohol can be returned with receipt and ID to original store
However, the details get more complicated when you consider federal, state, and local liquor laws. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll use my retail insider expertise to break down everything sellers and shoppers need to know about buying beer, wine, and spirits at Walmart in 2023.
Let‘s dive in!
Refusing Alcohol Sales – Walmart‘s Rules
Walmart staff can refuse alcohol sales to customers in certain situations, even if the refusal conflicts with state laws. Here are the top reasons Walmart may deny an alcohol purchase:
If a customer appears impaired or intoxicated, Walmart can refuse the sale. This applies to in-store purchases and online grocery pickup orders containing alcohol.
Why? Public intoxication laws and liquor licenses prohibit selling alcohol to visibly drunk patrons. Walmart must comply to retain their license.
Walmart won‘t allow alcohol sales they suspect are being made for underage drinking, even if the buyer is 21+.
For example, if a 40-year-old is buying multiple cases of hard seltzer with a group of teenagers waiting nearby, Walmart could refuse the sale. Or if a parent is purchasing alcohol alongside their under-21 child.
Why? Selling to an adult who will supply alcohol to minors violates many state laws. Walmart must avoid enabling underage drinking.
Lack of Valid Photo ID
Every alcohol purchase at Walmart requires showing valid photo ID proving you‘re 21+ years old. Without proper ID, they‘ll refuse the sale.
Why? Photo ID checks are mandatory in all states for retail alcohol sales. Failing to verify age can cost Walmart major fines or their liquor license status.
Outside Legal Hours
If a customer attempts to buy alcohol before the legal sales hours in that state, Walmart must refuse. For instance, no Sunday morning vodka purchases in restricted states.
Why? Each state sets limits on when alcohol can be sold in stores. Walmart must abide by those alcohol hour laws.
Now let‘s explore some common purchasing scenarios and how Walmart alcohol policies apply.
Buying Alcohol With Minors At Walmart
Shopping with your under-21 child or teenager doesn‘t automatically prohibit you from purchasing alcohol at Walmart.
The key factors Walmart employees look for:
Are you the parent/guardian? Walmart is more comfortable selling alcohol to legal parents accompanying their children.
Valid photo ID? They will check your ID closely to verify age 21+ and your relationship to the minor.
Who is the alcohol for? If it seems clear the alcohol is for your own consumption, the sale is allowed.
However, if circumstances suggest you are buying alcohol for the minor, Walmart can refuse the sale. For instance, only beer and hard seltzers in the cart with a group of teens present.
Some additional best practices I recommend if shopping with individuals under 21:
Shop at self-checkout. Quickly scan alcohol items separately from the rest of your cart contents.
If questioned, calmly reassure staff you are the parent/guardian and the alcohol is for your own responsible consumption.
Bring your child/teen to the register with you if possible, rather than leaving them unattended in another part of the store.
Following these tips helps avoid issues when buying alcohol as an adult shopper with minors at Walmart.
Purchasing Alcohol From Walmart Self-Checkout Registers
Scan a 6-pack at self-checkout without getting carded? Not so fast! Walmart requires ID checks for all alcohol purchases, including at self-checkout kiosks.
Policies vary by state due to differing liquor sale laws:
Banned states: California, New Mexico, and a few others prohibit self-checkout alcohol sales entirely.
Approved states: Most states permit alcohol purchases at self-checkout registers.
In approved states, here‘s how self-checkout alcohol purchases work:
Scan alcohol items at self-checkout as usual.
After scanning, the register screen will prompt you to wait for assistance.
A Walmart employee will come over to verify your photo ID and age.
Once approved, you can finish paying for the alcohol product(s) along with other items.
So while convenient, self-checkout does not bypass the mandatory ID checks for controlling alcohol purchases.
Showing ID For Alcohol At Walmart
To buy alcohol at Walmart, you must prove your age with valid government-issued photo identification. This includes:
- Driver‘s licenses
- State ID cards
- U.S. military ID
- Permanent resident cards
- Tribal ID cards
The ID must have your:
- Photo: Resembling your current appearance
- Birthdate: Showing you are 21 years old or older
- Expiration date: The ID card must be current/unexpired
Depending on local and state laws, Walmart may ask to see ID from any customers appearing under age 25, 30, 35, or 40. The exact threshold varies across stores.
I recommend always carrying a valid form of government ID if you intend to purchase alcohol just to be safe.
Can You Return Unopened Alcohol To Walmart?
Yes, Walmart allows returns of unopened alcohol products, as long as you follow their return policies:
- Original receipt from the purchase is required
- Returns only allowed at same store where alcohol was purchased
- Valid photo ID must be presented (matching purchaser name on receipt)
- Any tampering or opening disqualifies return
- Notify staff if manufacturer defect (not consumer damage)
Walmart also permits returning unopened tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related items as long as original purchaser and their valid photo ID are present.
For Walmart.com online grocery orders, alcohol returns must be initiated at the local store, not through the website.
Now let‘s review some commonly asked questions about Walmart‘s alcohol policies.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is a case of beer at Walmart?
A case of 24 beers typically ranges from around $14-$28 depending on brand. Domestic beers like Budweiser and Coors are on the lower end around $17 per case. Imports and craft brands can run up to $25-28 per case.
Can you buy alcohol with a Walmart gift card?
Yes, you can purchase alcohol using Walmart gift cards or store credit as long as you still show valid photo ID. Gift cards do not exempt you from age verification requirements.
What‘s the alcohol return policy in Colorado?
Colorado follows the standard Walmart return policy for unopened alcohol. You‘ll need to return items at original purchase store with receipt and valid photo ID matching the buyer‘s name.
Does Walmart allow alcohol delivery?
Walmart Grocery Delivery allows alcohol in many states. At checkout, you must pass ID verification. At delivery, you‘ll need to show your valid photo ID again before receiving alcohol items. Availability varies by location.
Can my spouse return alcohol I purchased?
No, only the original purchaser can return alcohol products at Walmart. Even with the receipt, your spouse cannot return alcohol that you personally bought without being present and showing their own valid matching ID.
Does Walmart sell non-alcoholic beer and wine?
Yes, Walmart offers various non-alcoholic beer and wine options:
|Fre Wines||Organic preservative-free wine with <0.5% alcohol|
|O‘Doul‘s||Classic non-alcoholicbeer from Anheuser-Busch|
|Heineken 0.0||Non-alcoholic lager with Heineken taste|
|Athletic Brewing||Craft-style non-alcoholic beers|
These can be purchased in-stores or online without any ID required since they contain minimal to no alcohol content.
I hope this detailed overview has helped explain Walmart‘s alcohol policies for shoppers and sellers! The key takeaways:
- Check your state‘s specific laws around retail alcohol sales
- Always bring valid government-issued photo ID to purchase alcohol
- Shop at self-checkout to expedite purchases if permitted in your state
- Save your receipts in case you need to return unopened products
Let me know if you have any other Walmart alcohol questions arise. I‘m happy to share my retail compliance insights to help buyers and sellers across America!