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Annual liquor sales in Utah up $20 million

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Rick Egan | Tribune file photo Liquor for sale at the Utah State Liquor Store in Bountiful.

By Kathy Stephenson

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 29 2014 03:01PM
Updated Jul 30, 2014 11:05AM

Utah alcohol sales reached another record high, growing by more than $20 million over the past year, according to a report released Tuesday by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC).

During the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30, total retail sales were $367.2 million. That’s an increase of nearly 6 percent from the previous 12 months when the state sold $346.8 million in beer, wine and spirits.

The DABC also keeps yearly figures on the total number of cases of alcohol sold. During the last 12 months, case sales jumped from 2.9 million to 3.05 million, an increase of 4.3 percent, the report said.

Both numbers represent a return to the purchasing patterns Utahns had before the economic downturn, said DABC financial analyst David Higley.

"Case sales increased at a higher rate during the recession," he said. "People were buying liquor, they were just buying cheaper products. These numbers show we’re going back to regular buying patterns."

Of course, even when the economy was bad, people continued to shop and Utah continued to have increases in liquor sales, he said.

The year-end data also showed that the DABC collected more than $57 million in taxes — $18.7 million in sales tax and another $38.34 million to help fund the state’s school lunch and public safety programs.

The DABC operating expenses totalled $41.4 million and included big-ticket items such as salaries and benefits ($15.7 million); rentals and leases ($7.5 million); credit card fees ($3.9 million); and delivery costs ($1.9 million).

All told, Utah’s state-run liquor program will come in "under budget by about half a million dollars," liquor commissioner Constance White said. That surplus will be returned to the state.

kathys@sltrib.com

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