Fiscal year 2014 marked the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) 16th consecutive record-setting year for sales, with gross sales registering $801 million, $32 million higher than last year. Profits also rose to $140 million, an increase of $5 million over the previous fiscal year.
Retail sales grew 4.7 percent and licensee sales (sales to restaurants) increased 1.6 percent from fiscal year 2013. ABC profits combined with state taxes, sales tax, and wine and beer taxes, resulted in an all-time high of $387 million transferred to Virginia’s general fund, up $17 million from last year. ABC continues to be a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $8.6 billion to Virginia’s general fund since 1934 to support state services, including substance abuse prevention and treatment.
“ABC’s repeat record-setting performance reflects our efforts to adapt to an ever-changing market in sometimes challenging economic times,” said ABC Chairman Jeff Painter. “Increased sales can also be attributed to population growth in the commonwealth, the strategic opening of seven new stores and a continued positive response to Sunday store hours.”
While the rapid increase in sales seen in previous years has begun to stabilize, total Sunday sales rose by $2.8 million, or 6.7 percent, from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2014. It is anticipated that going forward Sunday sales will increase in line with the overall sales growth.
The seven new stores opened in fiscal year 2014 generated a combined $2,912,084 in sales throughout Virginia. The agency also launched a line of premier stores, opening one in Williamsburg in March and another in Leesburg in June. Incorporating innovative retail space planning techniques, energy efficient lighting, a permanent tasting area, updated cabinetry and wall treatments, the new premier stores also feature a design theme reflective of the unique characteristics of a premier store’s location. New store shelving arrangements encourage customers to discover products they might not have known about, without forsaking the ease of identifying favorite brands they have come to expect in an ABC store.
Those favorites are experiencing shifts in Virginia and nationally. Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey are undergoing a resurgence, with double-digit gains in national sales in the last five years. Virginia saw combined sales of $241.5 million for Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Canadian, Scotch, Tennessee, Blended, Domestic, Irish, Corn, Rye and Bond whiskeys. Vodka netted a combined $215.7 million in sales for domestic, imported and flavored vodkas. Cordials came in third, with sales of $99.1 million.
Jack Daniel’s 7 Black topped the list of ABC’s top-selling brands, followed by Smirnoff 80, Jim Beam, Grey Goose and Fireball Cinnamon, which saw an impressive 105 percent increase ($8.2 million) over the previous year’s sales.
“Virginia ABC celebrated its 80th anniversary in fiscal year 2014 and marked a year of milestones that promise an even brighter future for the agency,” added Painter. “In the current fiscal year we have plans for a third premier location opening later this fall in Virginia Beach. The new retail initiative underscores a commitment to providing excellent customer service and is representative of Virginia ABC’s growing retail and marketing divisions.”
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 350 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Virginia ABC Earns $801 Million in Gross Sales in Fiscal Year 2014