The state agency that oversees the sale of alcohol hit a milestone for the fiscal year that ended Tuesday. Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division administrator Lynn Walding. Walding says the division passed $200-million in sales for the first time and generated profits that for the first time generated $100-million for the state.
Walding says the record is due in part to what’s called "trading up," where consumers buy more expensive brands of alcohol. Walding says part of it is the inflationary effect as the state marks up the price of liquor by 50%, so when the price of spirits increases, that mark up is passed on to consumers. He says will the sales of alcohol were up 8.2%, the gallons of liquor sold was only up 6.2%.
Walding says the number of outlets where Iowans can buy wine, beer or liquor has increase from around 400 outlets 10 years ago to around 650 now — and that has also contributed to increased sales. Walding says beer sales were up 1.4% — which he says is good for the beverage that’s a "volume business." He says wine sales were up — but the trend is not positive.
"Wine is now starting to trend down, after having hit almost double-digit numbers in 2003. In the last four years it had done 6% increases. This year wine was only up 1.8% and generated 6.3 million dollars for the state," Walding. A new law creating a "doggie bag" for wine sold at restaurants goes into effect today, but Walding doesn’t think it will impact sales very much.
Walding says most people that order a bottle of wine will drink the whole bottle or order a glass, so "it shouldn’t have a huge impact." He says in the past restaurants had to pay an additional $500 fee to offer take home wine, and now they won’t have to, so more make offer the service.
Walding says the economy has had some impact on sales recently. He says there’s been a change in the market in the last six months, but Walding says he agrees with one retailer who said recently alcohol, liquor and beer are seen as a "social convenience" and "affordable luxury" and at some point people want to go out and mingle and be in public and at restaurants.
Walding says that attitude will likely keep people purchasing alcohol in the state. Black Velvet remains the top seller in the state for alcohol. You can see the top ten most popular liquors and other sales figures at the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division website.