Liquor Store Sales Grow as Bar Drinks Fall


Liquor Store Sales Grow as Bar Drinks Fall

You may be familiar with a recent analysis by Mervin Jebaraj, the director of Center for Business & Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, of tax collections from liquor stores and bars last year in Arkansas.

Nut graf: Tax collections show liquor store sales grew, even during the coronavirus pandemic, while mixed-drink sales plummeted.

Well, we’re sharing the data so you, too, can see that the state’s 3% excise tax on liquor sales brought in $13.6 million through November 2020, the latest figures available, surpassing by $1.2 million sales for all of 2019.

Sales really jumped in April and May, while many Arkansans were hunkering down at home, confirming what liquor store owners told your Whispers staff: People were finding some comfort in a glass of wine or a couple of fingers of gin in the comfort of their own homes.

It didn’t hurt that the state started allowing retail liquor stores to deliver on an emergency basis. And now a bill to allow retail liquor stores in wet counties to deliver on a permanent basis has received the approval of the Arkansas Legislature.

Meanwhile, mixed-drink tax collections stood at $8.6 million for 2020 through November, far below the $12.5 million collected for January through November of 2019.

Business at bars will likely pick up, however, now that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has allowed the 11 p.m. curfew to expire.


Arkansas 3% Liquor Excise Tax Collections By Year

2020*

$13,576,556

2019

$12,417,012

2018

$11,972,478

2017

$11,219,558

2016

$10,972,856

2015

$10,357,476

2014

$10,095,819

2013

$9,692,049

2012

$9,053,301

2011

$8,244,515

2010

$7,860,498

*Only Jan.-Nov. included in total.
Source: Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration