Food  |  News & Politics

Liquor Sales in Virginia Spiked Dramatically During the Third Week of March

The following week, they were merely up by a lot.

Photograph by shuttertop, via iStock.
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Sales at Virginia ABC stores from March 15-21 were up an average of 59 percent over the previous year, according to figures the agency provided to Washingtonian. As in so many other areas of Virginia economic life, Northern Virginia was the commonwealth’s most important engine for growth: ABC stores closer to Washington did $11.2 million in sales, an increase of 65 percent over the period in 2019. That period covers St. Patrick’s Day.

Other areas of Virginia contributed to the boozy bonanza as well: Richmond/Petersburg did $6.9 million in sales (up 64 percent year over year); Tidewater did $6.9 million as well (though that was only up 48 percent over 2019); Charlottesville did $1.8 million (up 57 percent); and Roanoke/Lynchburg did $3.3 million (up 57 percent).

The following week, sales were merely up by a lot: Northern Virginia did $7.84 million in sales (up 14 percent over 2019); Richmond/Petersburg did $4.87 million in sales (up 13 percent); Tidewater did $5.19 million in sales (up 8 percent); Charlottesville did $1.26 million in sales (up 7 percent); and Roanoke/Lynchburg did $2.24 million in sales (up 8 percent). That’s an average of 11 percent higher than the same period the year before.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam exempted the state-run liquor stores from his March 23 order, which closed schools, most entertainment and recreation businesses, and limited restaurants to delivery and carryout service only. Northam’s March 30 stay-at-home order allows Virginia residents to leave the house to purchase beverages.

An ABC spokesperson tells Washingtonian the agency can’t yet provide information on top sellers during the coronavirus crisis, but says store managers have noted Tito’s Handmade Vodka is selling quickly. ABC’s Top 3 bestselling products for the 2019 fiscal year were Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hennessy V.S., and Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Black Label.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.