Virginia liquor sales up nearly $120M despite virus impacts

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority brought in $1.2 billion in revenue during the 2020 fiscal year in a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year, even as the coronavirus pandemic left restaurants and bars shuttered for months.
It’s the second year in a row the liquor agency surpassed $1 billion in gross revenue, which was bolstered by retail sales with the switch to online ordering, curbside pickup and shipping amid the pandemic, the authority announced Wednesday.
But the figures revealed the pandemic’s negative effects on licensed establishments such as restaurants and bars. The authority loosened restrictions to allow for delivery and takeout of alcoholic beverages and expanded patio access, but still sales dropped by 19% as retail sales increased by 18%, news outlets reported, citing the data.
“The pandemic has greatly affected our licensed establishments and Virginia’s distilled spirits industry,” CEO Travis Hill said in a statement. “We will continue to work with them to understand their challenges and adjust our processes to ease some of their pandemic-related pressures whenever possible.”
Before the pandemic, overall sales were up 7%, the agency’s numbers showed.
Of the earnings, $545.3 million went back into state programs and services as required by Virginia code, news outlets said.