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Strong sales with liquor, liquor everywhereJune 3, 2012 @ 6:01 pm (Updated: 5:36 am - 6/4/12 )
"We've sold three quarters of the stock we have. That's unofficial, but I can tell you sales have been strong. Huge," says the manager of a Fred Meyer in Seattle.
Initiative 1183, which passed with 59 percent of the vote in November, kicked in Friday taking the state out of the liquor business.
It will be difficult to get immediate sales totals from the private retailers who are coming off their first weekend of selling alcohol in Washington State.
Costco, Safeway and Kroger - the parent company of both Fred Meyer and QFC - are all publicly traded companies. Eventually investors will get some indication of whether liquor sales are successful for the companies.
There's an old adage on Wall Street that the booze business thrives in a recession because people drink even when they're broke.
Alcoholic beverage sales grew by nearly 10 percent last year, according to financial analysts at Sageworks . In 2010, sales jumped more than 9 percent even though unemployment was at 9.6 percent nationally.
Judging by the number of photos posted on Facebook of grocery store liquor aisles, and full-page, color advertisements in Sunday's newspaper, sales appear to be off to a spirited start.
People were proud to show off the heavily-taxed liquor they bought at stores around the region.
The convenience of picking up a bunch of bananas and a bottle of booze was intoxicating to some.
Has ending the state's monopoly on alcohol sales had an impact on you?
"I don't drink so it doesn't matter to me," says Sandy Reister. "But I am worried the easy access to alcohol of any kind will lead to an increase in crime and domestic violence."
"As someone who enjoys his booze, I find this encouraging," Robert Mears writes, "The whole pricing game is kinda weird and expensive right now. But as the market forms and solidifies, the prices will come down and pricing will stabilize."
Jim Fisler is happy he quit drinking four years ago. With all the new taxes - 30 percent on liquor and King County's $20 fee for car tabs, he says, "you would think they are forcing us to quit drinking and start riding bicycles."
By LINDA THOMAS
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