Liquor store sales in B.C. return to normal after initial pandemic bulk-buying frenzy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Liquor store sales in B.C. return to normal after initial pandemic bulk-buying frenzy

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July 24, 2020 - 6:00 AM

While the beginning of the pandemic in B.C. was correlated with a massive spike in sales at liquor stores, it would appear things have returned to normal now that restaurants and bars have reopened.

“(The spike) was largely related to people who couldn’t go to a bar or restaurant, and people were locked in at home and they couldn’t go anywhere and had nothing to do so they were increasing their alcohol purchases,” said Jeff Guignard, executive director with The Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

Guignard said in some cases, sales at private liquor stores in B.C. were up 20, 30 or even 40 per cent year over year back in March, April and May.

READ MORE: Liquor store sales boom as drinking increases during pandemic

“Liquor retail seems to be the bright spot in retail during this pandemic,” he said.

People were also buying more products like boxed wine and in large quantities, as it’s more economical to purchase in large quantities for those at home, he said.

“Some of those trends and product selection has continued but most of the increased sales in the liquor stores have come down to seasonal averages,” Guignard said. “They might be up a little bit still as people limit their socialization.”

As pubs, bars and restaurants have reopened, people are tending to purchase their liquor in those places again although there are far fewer people going to restaurants, he said.

In the Okanagan, bag in a box trends continue and more people are buying coolers with the summer weather by the lakes and beaches which is a normal in the summer, and the Okanagan liquor stores have been doing well during the pandemic, he said.

With a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Kelowna, there will be impacts to the hospitality industry, and operations may change as customers are scared to go out, but liquor stores are doing well, he said.

In provincially regulated B.C. Liquor stores, anything in a large container including cast wine, 1.75 litre spirits, flats of beer were flying off the shelves in March and April, but that’s since returned to normal, said Viviana Zanocco, communications manager with the BC Liquor Store Branch.

“It was crazier than Christmas,” Zanocco said, adding there were also limited store hours during that time due to an increase in cleaning and ensuring staff and customers were safe.

May sales were the same as last year, she said.


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