Jan 11, 2022 - Business

Liquor sales surged in the Charlotte area last year

ABC store

Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Liquor sales in Mecklenburg County rose faster last year than any time in the past decade, according to an Axios analysis of new data from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission.

By the numbers: Total liquor sales to the public surged to $153.8 million last year, up from $131.1 million in 2020, per Mecklenburg County data from the state ABC.

That’s a 17.3% increase. The year before, sales had risen 13.9% — but in the years preceding that, they never rose more than 10%, the data show.

Zoom out: The state of North Carolina’s control of liquor sales dates back to the Prohibition era. North Carolina is the only state where local government controls retail liquor sales.

  • Most states have one central liquor regulating board; North Carolina has 170.
  • The local boards in turn distribute the funds to localities to pay for needs such as libraries.

The increase in liquor sales occurred despite the fact that local ABC stores reported shortages of all sorts of popular spirits for months last year. Local ABC board officials cited supply chain issues as the reason for the shortages.

Data: North Carolina ABC Commission; Chart: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Between the lines: National research suggests that Americans increased their drinking during the pandemic for a host of reasons, including to combat COVID-related stress.

  • Isolation from pandemic lockdowns caused patients in the Charlotte area to drink more, Atrium Health’s Addiction Services manager Matt Orlousky told Axios’ Paige Hopkins last year.
  • Orlousky’s office reported a 10% increase in alcohol-related addiction diagnoses at its Charlotte location last year, Paige reported.

Bottom line: Whether it’s at home or at the bar or other social occasion, Charlotteans are drinking a whole lot more these days.


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