Virginia liquor says up $117M from same time last year

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The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) recorded a $117 million increase in sales for fiscal year 2020 compared to 2019.

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In its financial statements for FY 2020 released Wednesday, ABC recorded $1.2 billion in revenue — up $117 million from FY 2019, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

"In the months leading up to the pandemic, our sales performance was strong with a 7% increase over the prior year,” ABC CEO Travis Hill said in a statement. "This growth is a testament to our efforts to improve customer experience by providing an assortment of products geared to consumer preferences and opening new store locations where population growth dictates."

Hill added that the Authority, which has 358 stores across Virginia, saw "even greater growth as the pandemic took hold" and "had to meet the challenges" of keeping customers and employees safe.

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Licensee sales to bars and restaurants, as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, fell 19% year-over-year. The Authority permitted delivery and takeout of alcoholic beverages to provide some relief to businesses, but licensee sales ranged from 0 to 10.6% of ABC’s overall sales volume while they historically reach 18%, according to the release.

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"The pandemic has greatly affected our licensed establishments and Virginia’s distilled spirits industry," Hill said. "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. In this crisis, numbers only really tell part of the story."

A bartender sells a frozen margarita to go to a customer in the Bushwick neighborhood on April 2, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

The top five brands customers purchased during the fiscal year 2020 include Tito’s Handmade vodka, Hennessy VS cognac, Jack Daniel's 7 Black whiskey, Jim Beam bourbon and Patron Silver tequila.

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Hennessy VS saw a 33% jump in sales from $35.3 million to $46.9 million, and Tito's saw a 24% increase in sales from $42.1 million to $52.3 million, the release notes.

A Nielsen report from May found that online alcohol sales increased 234% between February and April while COVID-19 cases peaked in the U.S. compared to 2019, while off-premise sales were up 27%.

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