Liquor sales surged prior to privatization




State spirit sales surged in the three months ending in July, as restaurateurs, bar owners and consumers stockpiled liquor in May, according to figures released by the Washington Department of Revenue on Monday.

Liquor sales by volume increased 10.7 percent in the second quarter over the same three months in 2011. However, most of the increase occurred in May which registered a 46.7 percent jump in liquor sales to bars and restaurants. Sales to retail consumers increased by 19.6 percent in May.

In all, a total of 10.6 million liters of spirits were purchased in May, June and July, compared with 9.5 million liters for the same period in 2011. Statewide liquor sales totaled $164.8 million in the second quarter, compared with $138.9 million during the same period last year.

It is unclear whether Clark County’s hard liquor sales followed the trend because the state does not track spirit sales in the state’s 39 counties.

Oregon liquor store operators have reported more Washington booze shoppers since the switch. Consumers say Washington spirits prices are higher since the June 1 privatization of the formerly state-run liquor sales system. New state fees have raised the retail price of booze anywhere from 25 to 30 percent above the former state-run system’s costs, although the state says prices are down 1.5 percent since June.