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Utah breaks liquor sales records

(R. Boone)


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — State liquor sales broke the record on Monday for most liquor sold in one day in Utah.

Whether it's liquor, beer or wine, it's selling big this year in Utah. Brandt Olsen works for a liquor distributor, Diageo Spirits, and he's working hard to keep products available.

"That's all we're doing is facing stuff on the shelves, bringing it out for everybody to get it. As soon as we put something up like Crown Royal, it's gone and we're back there putting more up," Olsen said.

Monday set a record for liquor sales in one day, according to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A little more than $3 million worth of beer, wine and liquor sold in the state's 44 stores. That's more than 296,000 thousand bottles.

Those numbers track an overall trend of growth in liquor sales in recent years. This year the DABC says sales in the current fiscal year are trending 5 percent higher than the year before.

No one really has an explanation about why sales keep going up — whether it's the changing population, tied to the economy or something else. But the long lines inside and outside for crowd control are surprising customers.

"I'm actually really surprised that everybody's here at this time, I figured they would have done all this earlier like me. I'm in a rush mode like everybody else today," said liquor store customer James Duffield.

The long lines suggest something else to other customers.

"I think it says something about the system, that if alcohol were more widely spread out throughout the retail establishments, then we wouldn't be waiting in these lines," said liquor store customer Annie Kramer.

A recent study released by students at the University of Utah suggests that Utah needs more liquor stores to satisfy demands. But even if the state agreed, any new stores are years away.

Last year total sales were well over $346 million dollars, 10 percent — just over $38 million — went to the school lunch fund, and $81 million went to the state's general fund.

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Richard Piatt

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