Alcohol sales are way up in Alexandria because of COVID-19
Here’s another product besides hand sanitizers and toilet paper that’s flying off the shelves – alcohol.
During the coronavirus pandemic, liquor store sales are up in Alexandria, way up.
“Our March numbers were off the charts!” said Andy Mellgren, manager for the city’s two stores, Downtown Liquor and Plaza Liquor. “Both stores were up over 20% in sales volume versus March 2019.”
Mellgren compared the March sales to what the stores would see in late May and early June. He attributed the surge to a time when the general public was unsure if liquor stores were going to remain open.
“We saw many consumers buying in bulk during a five to seven day period in March,” Mellgren said. “April has settled into more typical sales volume.”
Customers haven’t been stocking up on any particular kind of alcohol.
“Nothing in particular stands out,” Mellgren said. “We notice that many people are purchasing larger quantities of wine, liquor and beer. We believe this is so that they make fewer trips.”
Although Coborn’s, which owns the Cash Wise liquor stores, was unable to provide specific sales numbers for Alexandria, CEO Chris Coburn said the company has noticed a jump in business across all of its stores.
“During the past several weeks, all Coborn’s Inc. locations have experienced higher than normal demand,” he said. “But our stores have handled this demand very well and have been able to provide most products that our guests have wanted.”
Although there may be more customers than usual, the stores are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are doing our best to practice and encourage consumers to practice social distancing,” Mellgren said. “We have reduced our hours to encourage consumers to stock up and make fewer trips.”
The municipal stores are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will remain closed on Sunday's until the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Mellgren said.
The stores have also ramped up their sanitizing efforts.
“We wipe down and clean door handles and equipment frequently,” said Mellgren. “We have installed plexi-glass partitions at each till. We have hand sanitizer stations available to consumers at the entrance doors. We encourage the use of debit/credit card versus cash, however, we do still accept cash.”
Overall, consumers have been patient and respectful of social distancing, Mellgren said.
“While we appreciate the support from our loyal customers, we do encourage people to reduce the number of trips each month by stocking up,” Mellgren said.
Coborn said he’s proud of the service that’s been displayed by Cash Wise employees during “this unprecedented time.”
“The health and safety of our guests and employees is our top priority,” he said. “Coborn’s senior leadership team meets daily to assess the evolving environment and implement the necessary protocols to ensure the safety of our guests and employees.”
Cash Wise precautions include using mask/face covering during an employee’s shift, installation of plexiglass shields at registers, and signage and markings on the floors that adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing recommendations.
During the pandemic, the city-owned stores have been able to keep full-time staff on schedule, according to Mellgren.
“Unfortunately, we have had to cut some of our part-time employees’ hours,” he added. “This is in part to consumer shopping habits changing, shopping late in the week instead of during the week.”
Coborn’s liquor stores have hired more temporary employees at most locations. “These employees have been able to assist with fully staffing our locations and meeting the needs of our guests,” Coborn said.