The eight Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores in Arlington accounted for 2.8 percent of total ABC purchases Virginia-wide during the state government’s last fiscal year, which saw a new statewide record set in total sales volume.
A total of $29,052,507 in sales (excluding tax) were made at Arlington’s ABC stores from July 2018 to June 2019, according to data provide to the Sun Gazette by the state government.
Year-over-year sales figures were mixed but generally higher, based on sales at the four highest-grossing stores in the county:
• The ABC outlet at 2955 South Glebe Road made $5.36 million in sales, down from $5.67 million a year before.
• The store at 881 North Quincy St. sold $4.31 million, up from $4.2 million.
• The outlet at 320 23rd St. South saw a sales total of $4.04 million, up from $3.93 million.
• The venue at 1922 Wilson Blvd. had sales of $4.02 million, up from $3.7 million.
Statewide, the Virginia ABC Authority took in record-breaking revenues of more than $1 billion in fiscal 2019, officials announced Aug. 13. The tally, which marked a $71.8 million increase from the previous year, included distilled-spirits sales, license fees and other revenue sources.
Statewide, the highest sales total for fiscal 2019 was recorded at the ABC store on Duke Street in Alexandria, whose $9.87 million in sales bumped above 2018’s sales leader, a store located on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach.
Travis Hill, CEO of the ABC Authority, attributed the revenue growth to the opening of seven new ABC stores; targeted, seasonal promotional campaigns; and changing trends in what consumers are buying.
“Customers aren’t necessarily drinking more,” he said. “They’re buying more premium products that have a higher per-bottle price tag. Additionally, they’re choosing distilled spirits over other products.”
The Virginia ABC, per state code, disburses earnings back to the commonwealth every year. Total disbursements for fiscal 2019 were $499.5 million, up $34.8 million from the previous fiscal year. The disbursements included $223 million in retail taxes, $196.7 million in sales and $79.8 million in taxes on wine and beer (which are sold at grocery and convenience stores and other non-ABC locations).
Retail sales were up 7.1 percent at ABC’s 380 stores, with the seven new locations generating almost $8 million in sales. The agency’s sales to restaurants rose 6.3 percent and alcohol sales on Sundays increased by 7.4 percent to $79 million. ABC also remodeled eight stores and relocated four to improved market areas.
Virginia has held a monopoly on hard-liquor sales across the commonwealth almost since the repeal of Prohibition in the early 1930s. The ABC Authority has more than 4,000 full- and part-time employees.
The statewide Top 5 best-selling brands this year (in descending order) were: Tito’s Handmade (domestic vodka); Hennessy VS (cognac/armagnac); Jack Daniel’s 7 Black (Tennessee whiskey); Jim Beam (bourbon); and Fireball Cinnamon (an imported cordial). In Arlington, the five best sellers were Tito’s Handmade (by a margin of more than 2-to-1 over any other of the next highest); Jameson Irish whiskey; Jack Daniel’s 7 Black; Maker’s Mark straight bourbon; and Patron Silver tequila.
Tito’s Handmade also was the biggest seller in Fairfax and Prince William counties, and statewide saw the biggest sales increase, a 26-percent jump from $33.5 million to $42.1 million. Hennessy VS had the next highest sales boost, a 6.5-percent increase from $33.2 million to $35.3 million.
– Brian Trompeter and Scott McCaffrey