Washington liquor prices were 17 percent higher on average in June, compared to the same month a year ago. The state Department of Revenue says sales declined in the first month private retailers could sell spirits in Washington. The drop is partially a result of bars and restaurants stocking their shelves in May.
But the Department of Revenue's Mike Gowrylow also attributes some of the sales slump to consumers feeling sticker shock.
"I think initially merchants were just showing the base price of the liquor but when you get to the check out counter you get the 20-plus percent sales tax and the liquor liter tax," Gowrylow says. "And the final price is much, much higher."
The privatization initiative imposed additional fees on booze to reimburse the state for millions of dollars in lost liquor store revenue. But in June, at least, net liquor tax collections to Washington state came in slightly below forecast.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network