Bargains dominate top-selling products at Utah liquor stores

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) A sale label on a product at Utah state liquor store in Murray, Wednesday July 18, 2018.

The top-selling items at state-run liquor stores reaffirm Utah’s love for bargains and bulk purchases.

But consumers aren’t always pinching pennies. They will splurge on expensive Champagne for a special occasion or a craft beer made in Utah.

Seven of the top 10 spirits in the state were sold in bottles larger than the usual 750 milliliter container, sales numbers for the 12-month period that ended June 30 show.

Box wines still dominate, with six of the top 10 wines coming in cardboard containers.

And, despite the boom in Utah’s craft beer industry, the number one beer in the state is a national brand that sells for less than $1 a can.

Bargains have always been popular at liquor stores, said Terry Wood, spokesman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. But that has been especially true over the past five months, as consumers stayed home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re seeing people stock up with larger sizes,” Wood said during an episode of the Utah Booze News podcast. “They’re also sticking to well-known brands they are familiar with.”

Tito’s Handmade Vodka — in a 1,750 ml bottle — was the number one spirit in the state bringing in $3.68 million in sales, more than any other single items carried by the DABC.

During the year, consumers purchased 90,229 bottles, costing about $42 each.

After years at the top of the list, the bargain-priced Barton Vodka — also in a 1,750 ml bottle — was knocked to second place. But it still had $3.5 million in annual sales and led the category in the number of units sold. Consumers bought 318,909 bottles for $11 each.

Patron Silver Tequila (750 ml) was third in sales with $2.7 million, followed by Jack Daniels Black (1,750 ml) at $2.6 million.

Beer sales were mixed.

Natty Daddy, which sells for .95 cents a can — and is made by Natural Light — is the winner in the beer aisle bringing in $1.24 million in sales. Utah-produced Squatters Hop Rising Double IPA in bottles and cans ranked second and third, bringing in $1 million and $899,840, respectively.

Beer that is higher than 5% alcohol by volume is sold in liquor stores. Lower-alcohol brews are sold in grocery and convenience stores.

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, a celebrated Champagne that typically costs $58 a bottle, remains the state’s top-selling wine for the third year with sales above $1.15 million.

Wood said holiday sales for Champagne and other sparkling wines are always brisk; and parties associated with the Sundance Film Festival and other Park City events typically boost the dollar amounts.

One segment that doesn’t show up on the top 10 list, Wood said, but is surging in popularity because of its convenience — and Earth friendly packaging — is canned liquors such as hard seltzers, flavored malt beverages and pre-mixed cocktails.

All combined, annual sales of wine, beer and spirits broke the half-billion mark in fiscal 2019-20, reaching $500.32 million. That represents an increase of 4.38%, or $21 million, above the previous year — when sales hit $479.32 million.