More than $545 million contributed to the commonwealth
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) released its unaudited draft financial statements for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to the Virginia Department of Accounts and the Auditor of Public Accounts showing gross revenue of $1.2 billion, up $117 million over FY 2019, in a year underscored by pervasive uncertainty. ABC revenues include the sale of distilled spirits, Virginia wines and mixers, and the collection of license fees and other miscellaneous revenues.
Each year, per the Code of Virginia, Virginia ABC remits earnings to the commonwealth for designated state programs and services. For FY 2020, ABC contributed a total of $545.3 million, an increase of $45.8 million over the previous year. This reflects $212.1 million in profits from retail sales, $251.4 million in taxes (retail) and $81.8 million collected in wine and beer taxes.
“In the months leading up to the pandemic, our sales performance was strong with a 7% increase over the prior year,” said Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “This growth is a testament to our efforts to improve customer experience by providing an assortment of products geared to consumer preferences and opening new store locations where population growth dictates. While we saw even greater growth as the pandemic took hold, we also had to meet the challenges of keeping our customers and employees safe.”
During FY 2020, retail sales grew 18%, with 12 new ABC stores generating nearly $18.3 million in sales. ABC oversaw six store remodels and 13 store relocations to improved market areas, enhancing customer service and accessibility. Online order growth was a major contributor in FY 2020, averaging 23 orders per day at the start of the fiscal year, and growing to 419 orders per day by July. While the pandemic has driven customers to order online, Virginia ABC expanded its services in May to include curbside pickup at 370 stores and a first-ever home shipping pilot in Suffolk in June. Sunday sales also continued to play a role in the rising revenue, increasing by 18% in FY 2020 to $93.8 million.
Sales figures to restaurant and hospitality businesses show the devastating impact the pandemic is having on these segments of our economy. In response to the challenges faced by its licensees, ABC provided relief from regulatory challenges amid the pandemic by permitting the delivery and takeout of mixed beverages, accelerating the process for receiving outside dining area applications and deferring license renewal fees. Even with these measures in place, licensee sales finished FY 2020 at a 19% decrease over the prior year.
From March to July, as restaurants struggled with closures and limited operations as the result of COVID-19, sales to licensees ranged from 0% to 10.6% of ABC’s overall sales volume, with the majority of Virginia ABC’s sales increases coming from retail customers taking spirits home. Sales to licensees historically represent 18% of ABC’s revenue.
“The pandemic has greatly affected our licensed establishments and Virginia’s distilled spirits industry. We will continue to work with them to understand their challenges and adjust our processes to ease some of their pandemic-related pressures whenever possible,” said Hill. “In this crisis, numbers only really tell part of the story. On the individual level, people are either looking for new employment or working under the challenges of the pandemic. ABC is no different than any other business in that our success this year would not have been possible without the commitment and sacrifice of our employees.”
According to FY 2020 sales, the top five brands purchased in Virginia ABC stores were:
1. Tito’s Handmade – domestic vodka
2. Hennessy VS – cognac/Armagnac
3. Jack Daniel’s 7 Black – Tennessee whiskey
4. Jim Beam – straight bourbon
5. Patron Silver – tequila
Of the five top sellers, Hennessy VS cognac/Armagnac saw the most impressive leap in sales, from $35.3 million to $46.9 million, a 33% increase. Tito’s Handmade domestic vodka sales also increased from $42.1 million to $52.3 million, a 24% increase over FY 2019.
The final, audited results will be released in the fall. For more information about Virginia ABC’s sales and revenue, visit www.abc.virginia.gov
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $2.3 billion to the general fund in the last five years. Virginia ABC currently operates 389 state stores, and provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 18,000 ABC licensed establishments. Now marking its 86th year, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its vision of bringing good spirits and excellent service to Virginia.
Web: www.abc.virginia.gov Facebook: @VirginiaABC Twitter: @VirginiaABC