Alcohol stores closing

Liquor sales soar in US due to panic buying

March 15, 2020
By Alana House

US alcohol delivery service Drizly says its sales have soared since news of the coronavirus began to spread and customers began panic buying.

In Seattle, Chicago and Boston, sales of wine, beer and liquor last week were up 300-500%, with the average basket spend about 30% above normal levels.


“Yesterday was our largest day ever, inclusive of New Year’s and Halloween, which are our busiest times,” said Cory Rellas, Drizly’s chief executive, on Friday.

“It feels like this is the week where there is a change in the psyche as people realise that they’re going to be working from home for more than a couple of days.”

Lisa Rydman, whose family owns Spec’s, a liquor store chain based in Houston, told The New York Times its online sales last week were up 100% compared to the week before.

“People are in a kind of state of hysteria, so they’re stocking up, whether in person or delivery,” she said. “We are absolutely seeing people wanting to stock up because they’re getting ready for whatever is coming.”

Cowen’s Vivien Azer said: “Consumer demand for alcoholic beverages remains strong, which has been evidenced by high traffic and velocity in the off-premise. With no firm timeline in place on when to expect an end to social distancing measures, consumers have been pantry loading.

“This should provide a near-term bump in off-premise alcohol sales and help to partially offset the lost consumption that will be felt in the on-premise channel, which typically accounts for 18% to 20% of total volumes.”

Liquor stores to close due to coronavirus

In Pennslyvania, state-run liquor stores are set to close until further notice because of the coronavirus.

Starting Tuesday night, all 600 fine wine and spirits stores in the area will be closed until further notice. And they’re set to stay closed until further notice.

Customers have been crowding the stores, panic buying to get their last supplies. There are reports of 200-300 people in queues. The biggest seller: boxed wine.

“I knew it’d be a mad house like this,” said one customer.

“Unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said. “Not even on New Year’s Day, or New Year’s Eve, shall I say.”

Brawl breaks out in bottle shop

A fight during panic buying for coronavirus quarantine saw two men brawling with broken wine bottles in the aisles of Sam’s Club in Georgia.

Sam's Club fight

Authorities believe the fight started when a man in a motorised shopping vehicle bumped into a couple’s shopping trolley, which was carrying their child, Police Sgt. Edwin Ivey told NBC News.

The man in the motorised cart told police he grabbed a wine bottle to defend himself from the couple. The other man did the same and they both started striking each other, Ivey said.

All three are facing charges in connection with the incident.

Even more disturbing is the news that queues are forming at gun stores throughout the US as Americans prepare for a possible breakdown of law and order.

Kevin Lim, who owns tactical gear retailer Bulletproof Zone, told BuzzFeed News his sales have jumped 50-100%.

He said: “I think with the way things have escalated quite quickly around the world and in the US in just the last couple of weeks, it’s very hard to tell what’s going to happen next, and I believe it is better to be safe than sorry.”

Rich shoppers ransack grocery & wine stores

If you thought panic buying in Australia was out of control, it doesn’t hold a candle to what’s happening in the Hamptons, where rich shoppers are taking it to a whole new level.

New York’s rich elite have evacuated to their holiday houses in the upmarket region, where they are spending thousands of dollars on their grocery shopping.

And it’s not canned beans and rice they’re grabbing, but whole trays of salmon, fancy steaks and rare bottles of wine.

One Citarella customer told the Hollywood Reporter: “A couple walked in [to Citarella] with full-on hazmat suits. They looked like spacemen — it was surreal.’’

A film industry source in Bridgehampton added: “I saw one woman early on with a shopping cart just completely full of tomatoes — she cleaned them out.

“The social fabric is disintegrating; it’s like a Twilight Zone episode.’’

Hamptons wine

The owner of Wainscott Main Wine & Spirits (above) near East Hampton, Joel Kaye, reports business was up 500% last Friday compared with the same day last year, with rich shoppers spending $400 to $2000 at a time, instead of the normal $75.

“Our clients are stocking up their wine cellars, buying things like eight bottles of a good $200 Napa burgundy, instead of one bottle,” Kaye said.

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