Newly Private Liquor Sales Rise in Wash. Despite Price Hike

Sep 10, 2012

Liquor sales in Washington are up – way up. That’s according to new figures out Monday on the period after the state’s new privatization law took effect. They show July’s retail sales increased 21 percent over the previous year. And that’s despite higher prices on spirits.

Washington’s government-run liquor store system ended June 1 when a voter-passed law took effect, opening the door for grocery stores to sell hard alcohol.

Kent Fleischmann owns Dry Fly Distillery in Spokane. He says he’s still waiting to see how the new system plays out, but he thinks it’s going to equate to more liquor sales in Washington in the long-run.

Fleischmann: “I mean, let’s look at it realistically. When you used to buy liquor, you would have to get in your car and drive to a liquor store, specifically to go think about buying liquor. Now you just can get it getting your Cheerios and zucchini.”

Initially, sales actually dropped after privatization, likely due to a 17 percent increase in prices. Sales to bars and restaurants remained down in July. A spokesman for the Washington Department of Revenue says that’s probably because they were burning through the stockpiles of booze many pubs stored away before the transition.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network