The LCBO is questioning the results of a study that found minors are less likely to be carded for age at its stores than at other retailers.

According to the study on the sale of age-restricted products across Ontario, one in four underage shoppers walk out of the LCBO with alcohol.

The study, commissioned by the Ontario Convenience Stores Association, tested 105 of the LCBO's 611 stores with secret young adult shoppers.

Statopex Field Marketing, the firm behind the study, sent two groups of mystery shoppers — minors aged 15 to 18 and young adults aged 19 to 24 — to the LCBO, The Beer Store and several convenience stores across the province.

The secret shoppers tested store staff on the sale of both alcohol and tobacco.

Some mystery shoppers asked store staff for a popular domestic brand of regular cigarettes. Others asked staff for a six-pack of popular brand of beer. Staff failed the test immediately if they failed to card a minor for either product.

At The Beer Store, one in five minors walked away with booze when the mystery shopper test was applied.

According to the study, convenience stores are the most diligent vendors of age-restricted products. The 93 stores studied tested for age most frequently.

LCBO questions results

The LCBO, however, is skeptical of the study.

"We have numbers that tell a different story," said LCBO spokesperson Chris Layton.

According to Layton, last year LCBO staff challenged 3.6-million customers in Ontario for identification and refused service to 192 000. Eighty per cent of those refusals were related to age, he said.

The president of the Ontario Convience Stores Association said the results were surprising.

"Government officials have for years put the LCBO or the foreign-owned Beer Store up as the model for keeping age-restricted products from minors," said Dave Bryans.