HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – 2020 was a record setting year for alcohol sales in the state of Virginia.
New data shows a booming increase. While people were stuck at home during the pandemic, unable to go to their favorite watering holes or restaurants, many bought liquor from ABC stores and made cocktails.
Statewide preliminary numbers from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority show sales rose more than $173 million in 2020 compared to 2019.
Here are the sales numbers for Hampton Roads over the last five years:
- 2015: $188,288,075
- 2016: $197,112,962
- 2017: $205,007,840
- 2018: $219,750,802
- 2019: $237,648,982
- 2020: $279,934,805
These are the stop items that are sold in the state:
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- Jack Daniel's 7 Black Tennessee
- Jim Beam
- Patron Silver Tequila
“2020 was definitely an interesting year in terms of sales,” said Taylor Thornberg, ABC Public Relations Specialist. She said marketing efforts from the state and individual products have caused sales to go up over the past five years.
Thornberg said while sales were down for bars and restaurants because of state COVID-19 restrictions, that didn’t stop people from buying alcohol.
“Certainly the increase in sales has been almost entirely on the retail side, so customers coming into our stores and ordering online,” said Thornberg.
“We're always concerned about sales increases, but in this case, we need to better understand - is it truly a sales increase or consumption increase?” said Eddie Wirt, the ABC Chief Communications and Research Officer.
He said right now, they’re trying to get information to better understand consumer behavior over the pandemic.
“While our sales continue to grow - and they have grown during the pandemic - it's not all new sales or perhaps new consumption. When restaurants are closed and they're not serving mixed beverages, consumers may turn to ABC to buy something from retail,” said Wirt.
Officials said some of the changes put in place during the pandemic will be here to stay.
“Definitely, certainly, curbside pickup will be staying; home shipping will be staying. We're looking at expanding that program home shipping,” said Thornberg.
State officials say they have continued to push resources from their Education and Prevention Section, serve on councils for colleges and universities and work with groups whose focus is prevention.
“I think during the pandemic we've done as much as we think we possibly can - whether it's social media; whether it's email; whether it's phone calls to those groups that are doing the prevention work throughout the Commonwealth,” said Wirt.