By Linda Cicoira — The latest figures show nearly $6.4 million worth of alcohol was sold at the five ABC stores on the Eastern Shore in the 2019 fiscal year, which ended on June 30.
That’s an increase of $1.6 million from 2014, $700,000 more than in 2017, and $500,000 above last year’s sales, according to comparisons of annual reports.
Statewide the trend is up too. The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced another record-breaking year last week with revenues in excess of $1 billion, a hike of $71.8 million compared to the previous year.
Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill explained, “ABC’s revenue growth is primarily the result of adding stores around the state to improve customer convenience, a robust series of targeted seasonal promotional campaigns and changing consumer trends.”
The number of stores on the Eastern Shore remained the same in that time. The Onley store, in Accomack County, is still the top moneymaker in the two-county area. The 2019 fiscal year saw $1,931,532 in sales in Onley, an increase of $132,583.
The Cape Charles store, in Northampton, was the second-highest seller locally and followed with $1,494,426, or an increase of $159,578.
The Oak Hall store brought $1,014,729 in sales. Exmore was next with $970,915. The store on Pension Street on Chincoteague had $970,915 in sales.
Tito’s Handmade domestic vodka is the most popular item statewide and on the Eastern Shore. The item brought in $126,054 in sales in Accomack and $112,162 in Northampton, in 2019. Other favorites that brought more than $100,000 in Accomack were Jack Daniel’s 7 Black Tennessee Whiskey, Crown Royal, and Fireball Cinnamon cordial. Hennessey VS was the number two item in Northampton at $63,561.
Statewide, of the five top sellers, Tito’s “saw the most impressive leap in sales, from $33.5 million to $42.1 million, a 26% increase followed by Hennessy VS from $33.2 million to $35.3 million, a 6.5% increase over fiscal year 2018,” the recent announcement stated.
In fiscal 2019, there were 840,122 gallons of liquor sold statewide. Of those 86,319 were sold on the Eastern Shore, an increase of 1,273 compared to 2017 or nearly 2,000 gallons in 2015. A total report for the most recent fiscal year is still being compiled.
“Customers aren’t necessarily drinking more; they’re buying more premium products that have a higher per bottle price tag,” said Hill. “Additionally, they’re choosing distilled spirits over other products.”
The gross profits for the local stores totaled $2,106,663 in the last fiscal year.
According to a recent announcement, “each year, per the Code of Virginia, Virginia ABC disburses earnings back to the commonwealth. For the 2019 fiscal year, ABC disbursed a total of $499.5 million, an increase of $34.8 million over the previous year. These profits reflect $196.7 million in sales, $223 million in taxes (retail) and $79.8 million collected in wine and beer taxes.”
Dawn Eischen, of Virginia ABC, was unable to determine how much of the $499.5 million would go back to the Eastern Shore for government programs/services. “ABC does not determine what programs, agencies or localities receive funds from the commonwealth’s general fund. The General Assembly determines that.”