Pa. report shows sales at state-run liquor stores down

The pandemic period of unprecedented at-home booze consumption in Pennsylvania appears to be over, but that doesn’t mean alcohol consumption has declined overall.

Following record sales of spirits and wines at state stores in fiscal 2020-21, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board reported that dollar retail sales in fiscal 2021-22 fell 3.4% to $2.12 billion.

This represents a return to “near-normal” pre-pandemic buying patterns, according to a PLCB press release. E-commerce sales also fell 19.2%, totaling $13.5 million in fiscal 2021-22. Dollar.

However, PLCB had total sales of $3.02 billion, including liquor and sales taxes. This corresponds to an increase of 3.8% compared to the previous year. It also marks the first time in the agency’s history that gross sales of wine and spirits have surpassed $3 billion.

PLCB spokesman Steve Kelly said that although retail sales have declined, the agency has seen a rebound in total licensing sales — from $228 million in fiscal 2020-21 to $365 million in fiscal 2021-22.

PLCB operates approximately 574 fine wine and fine spirits locations and issues liquor licenses to statewide businesses such as restaurants and bars.

Kelly said this could represent a shift that shows Pennsylvanians returning to bars after the pandemic, rather than drinking as much at home, and not necessarily drinking less overall.

“If you look at the numbers, there seems to be a shift in where they buy their alcohol,” Kelly said. “Less from (government stores) and more from licensed establishments.”

Thanks to liquor sales, more than $839.3 million was distributed to the Pennsylvania General Fund last fiscal year.

The most popular alcohol sold through PLCB in the last fiscal year was unflavored vodka and the second most popular was American whiskey. Unflavored vodka was the top spirits category in 52 counties – including Allegheny and Westmoreland – while American whiskey topped the remaining 15 counties – including Greene and Somerset.

California’s Cabernet Sauvignon was the most popular wine sold in state stores, the red wine was also the most popular in most of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County easily ranked first as the county for purchasing the most alcohol from state stores, totaling more than $348 million last fiscal year. The top three counties – Allegheny, Philadelphia and Montgomery – accounted for 35% of statewide sales.

Westmoreland County ranked ninth for fiscal year 2021-22 with retail sales of more than $72 million.

Ryan Deto is a contributor to Tribune-Review. You can contact Ryan via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .