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Utah's alcohol authority reports $18 million increase in sales despite pandemic

Posted at 11:05 AM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 13:13:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is reporting an $18 million increase in liquor sales over last year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Tuesday's monthly meeting of the DABC Commission, liquor sales were up almost 5% year-over-year for the month of March. However, overall bottle sales were down 3%.

DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos warned the commission that they were bracing for liquor sales to be down in April, perhaps as much as 20%, given that bars and restaurants were forced to close in mid-March and have remained shuttered. The agency also returned $330,000 to liquor licensees for unused alcohol.

State-run liquor stores have remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Walk-in traffic, the commission was told, is 7% higher than this time last year. The state said it has taken precautions and will close liquor stores when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, then sanitize and re-open it when it is safe to do so.

The Moab liquor store is set to re-open Wednesday. The Murray liquor store has closed after an employee there tested positive for COVID-19.

At the DABC commission's monthly meeting, conducted over a virtual conference call, they handed out liquor licenses despite a few technological issues (someone even declared "my God, this meeting is insane" on an unmuted microphone). The agency awarded Redemption in Herriman and Grid City Beer Works in Salt Lake City full-service bar licenses.