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Cheers! ABC Stores See Increase in Sales

By Pedro Coronado, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Let’s raise a toast to the top-selling liquor store in Central Virginia in 2018. The ABC outlet at 10 N. Thompson St. in Richmond, registered almost $8 million in gross sales and had the highest profit margin in the state.

Only two other ABC stores, both in Virginia Beach, had higher sales than the one on Thompson, just off Carytown — on the edge of the Fan district and 2 miles from the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.

Jean Louis, a regular customer at the Thompson Street store, says it usually features more liquor than nearby ABC outlets on Broad and West Main streets.

“I love how they always have more than one supply of luxurious bottles like Hennessy Richard,” Louis said.” Those kinds of bottles are usually rarely stocked in other stores, making them hard to find.”

During the 2018 fiscal year, the 370 stores operated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority rang up sales of $978,751,341. Overall, the rate of return (the profit plus taxes collected, divided by gross sales) was 34.8%.

The stores with the highest gross sales were at:

  • 1612 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach — $9,333,007
  • 405 30th St., Virginia Beach — $8,701,621
  • 10 N. Thompson St., Richmond — $7,966,262

The stores with the highest rates of return were at:

  • 10 N. Thompson St., Richmond — 40.7%
  • 2901 Hermitage Rd., Richmond — 40.7%
  • 405 30th St., Virginia Beach — 40.2%

The Virginia ABC has four main sources of revenue: state-imposed taxes on beer and wine sales, sales of distilled spirits at the agency’s stores, violation penalties and license fees. After each fiscal year, the commission releases a report on its sales and other activities.

During the 2019 fiscal year, which ended June 30, ABC brought in even more money — more than $1 billion. Agency officials announced in August that they had another record-breaking milestone as revenues increased about $72 million over the previous year.

For 2019, the commission had about $197 million in store profits, $223 million in retail taxes and $80 million in wine and beer taxes. As a result, it pumped almost $500 million into the state government’s general fund, which supports education, health, transportation, public safety and other services.

The top five brands purchased in Virginia ABC stores last year remained Tito’s Handmade (domestic vodka), Hennessy VS (cognac), Jack Daniel’s 7 Black (Tennessee whiskey), Jim Beam (straight bourbon), and Fireball Cinnamon (imported cordial).

Another metric is the total gallons sold by the state’s ABC stores. In 2018, that number exceeded 12 million gallons, up about 3% from the previous year.

Revenues have risen as ABC amped up its marketing and merchandising.

“ABC’s revenue growth is primarily the result of adding stores around the state to improve customer convenience, a robust series of targeted seasonal promotional campaigns and changing consumer trends,” Travis Hill, the commission’s chief executive officer, said in announcing the 2019 revenue numbers.

“We opened seven new stores in the last fiscal year, which provided greater accessibility for customers and increased sales. Customers aren’t necessarily drinking more; they’re buying more premium products that have a higher per bottle price tag. Additionally, they’re choosing distilled spirits over other products.”

ABC stores are holding various promotions in September, which Gov. Ralph Northam has designated as Virginia Spirits Month. Thursday, for example, was Spirited Bourbon Day, with 20% discounts on select bourbons. Other events include wine tastings and samplings at distilleries.

(Editor's Note: According to data supplied by the Capital News Service, the Gross Sales for the Emporia ABC Store were $2,337,510 with a 33.5% Rate of Return)

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