Iowa’s most heavily populated county led the state in liquor sales by a large margin in the last fiscal year, and the first in the nation caucuses could be part of the reason.
Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator, Lynn Walding says the state had $188-million in sales for the fiscal year that ended June 30th. About $40 million worth was sold in Polk County.
Walding says that translates into one-in-five drinks in the state being sold in Polk County, and was quite a large margin over Linn County, which came in second in sales at 17 million. Walding says Polk County has traditionally led in sales because of its population, but says the large margin this time was likely due in part to the Iowa Caucuses.
Walding says conventions and tourism contribute to it, but he says the political activity in Polk County during the election cycle all help drive sales, as overall he says sales in Polk County were "fairly significant" in relation to other counties.
While Polk Count led in sales, a smaller county led in another category. Walding says little Dickinson County in northwest Iowa led in consumption of alcohol per individual in the county with per capita consumption of 5.61 gallons. Walding says the summer tourism industry the reason for the high consumption there.
Walding says the flooding did have some impact on sales. He says sales for May and June were down around two percent as they couldn’t make deliveries to areas like Cedar Rapids, while overall sales were up nearly seven percent. Walding says the overall economic impact was evident too.
Walding says things have slowed a little, as sales had increased in the double digits, or near double digits the past four years. Walding says people had been on a trend of buying more expensive liquor, or "trading up", but now "People aren’t quite reaching as high up on the shelf as they once were."
Walding says Iowans are tending to buy the moderate priced liquor instead of the more expensive drinks. Overall he says the state-run liquor business has held its own.
"I think Iowa has weathered the economy better than most states, as a result it hasn’t been a huge impact," Walding says. He says other states have seen sales level out completely or go down, and they’ll have to wait and see if that changes.
Walding does say in July, the first month of the new fiscal year, there was a 25% increase in sales. Walding says the state ended up with nearly 88 million dollars in profit for the fiscal year, which was up about four percent.