Virginia ABC sales up $117 million over last fiscal year

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.com and republished with permission. Sign up for InsideNoVa.com’s free email subscription today.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) says gross revenue for this fiscal year topped $1.2 billion, up $117 million over fiscal 2019.

ABC revenues include the sale of distilled spirits, Virginia wines and mixers, and the collection of license fees and other miscellaneous revenues.

According to fiscal 2020 sales, the top five brands purchased in Virginia ABC stores were:

  • Tito’s Handmade – domestic vodka
  • Hennessy VS – cognac/Armagnac
  • Jack Daniel’s 7 Black – Tennessee whiskey
  • Jim Beam – straight bourbon
  • Patron Silver – tequila

Of the five top sellers, Hennessy VS cognac/Armagnac saw the most impressive leap in sales, from $35.3 million to $46.9 million, a 33% increase. Tito’s Handmade domestic vodka sales also increased from $42.1 million to $52.3 million, a 24% increase over FY 2019.

Each year, per the Code of Virginia, Virginia ABC remits earnings to the commonwealth for designated state programs and services. For this fiscal year, ABC contributed a total of $545.3 million, an increase of $45.8 million over the previous year. This reflects $212.1 million in profits from retail sales, $251.4 million in taxes (retail) and $81.8 million collected in wine and beer taxes, the ABC said in a news release.

“In the months leading up to the pandemic, our sales performance was strong with a 7% increase over the prior year,” said Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “This growth is a testament to our efforts to improve customer experience by providing an assortment of products geared to consumer preferences and opening new store locations where population growth dictates.

“While we saw even greater growth as the pandemic took hold, we also had to meet the challenges of keeping our customers and employees safe.”

During this fiscal year, retail sales grew 18%, with 12 new ABC stores generating nearly $18.3 million in sales. ABC oversaw six store remodels and 13 store relocations to improved market areas, enhancing customer service and accessibility.

Online order growth was a major contributor, averaging 23 orders per day at the start of the fiscal year, and growing to 419 orders per day by July.

While the pandemic has driven customers to order online, Virginia ABC expanded its services in May to include curbside pickup at 370 stores and a first-ever home shipping pilot in Suffolk in June. Sunday sales also continued to play a role in the rising revenue, increasing by 18% in fiscal 2020 to $93.8 million.

Sales figures to restaurant and hospitality businesses show the devastating impact the pandemic is having on these segments of our economy.

In response to the challenges faced by its licensees, ABC provided relief from regulatory challenges amid the pandemic by permitting the delivery and takeout of mixed beverages, accelerating the process for receiving outside dining area applications and deferring license renewal fees.

Even with these measures in place, licensee sales finished the fiscal year at a 19% decrease over the prior year.

From March to July, as restaurants struggled with closures and limited operations as the result of COVID-19, sales to licensees ranged from 0% to 10.6% of ABC’s overall sales volume, with the majority of Virginia ABC’s sales increases coming from retail customers taking spirits home. Sales to licensees historically represent 18% of ABC’s revenue.

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