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In self-quarantine from COVID-19, Utahns are buying better booze

Posted at 12:36 PM, Jun 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 14:37:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utahns stay at home to avoid COVID-19, new figures show they're purchasing much better alcohol.

During its monthly commission meeting, Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control reported a 6% drop in bottle sales but a 4% increase in liquor sales.

"How does that work?" asked DABC Commissioner Jaqueline Orton.

DABC finance director Man Diep reported to her that the agency is seeing the decline in bottle sales due to losing a lot of beer sales when Utah abandoned 3.2 beer in favor of heavier brews in grocery and convenience stores. The agency is also reporting a decline in bar sales because of COVID-19.

However, DABC executive director Sal Petilos pointed out that the pandemic has also led to a boost in foot traffic in state-run liquor stores. The DABC reported a $17.8 million increase in sales over this time last year. As people have been drinking more at home (with bars and restaurants closed during a lot of the pandemic) they have been buying more expensive -- arguably better quality -- alcohols.

Under an executive order from Governor Gary Herbert, the DABC is now requiring customers who shop in state-run liquor stores to wear face coverings. The agency said Tuesday that customers could "quickly" lower their face mask for an ID check if the clerk deems it necessary.

Get caught up on Utah alcohol policy with the "Utah Booze News" podcast produced by FOX 13 and The Salt Lake Tribune.