The state Department of Revenue says Washington State residents bought less liquor overall in June 2012, when the state liquor-privatization law went into effect, but attributes at least some of that fall-off to the fact that consumers---particularly restaurant and bar owners---stockpiled bottles in May, before prices rose under privatization. Overall, booze sales between May (pre-privatization) and June (post-privatization) went up 8.2 percent, indicating that under privatization, so far at least, people are drinking more hard alcohol than before.
"We don't know yet what the long-term trend is going to be, because one month does not a trend make, and it's particularly uncertain because of all the stocking up that people did in May," DOR spokesman Mike Gowrylow says. "What we don't know is what they're going to do going forward. There's the novelty of having liquor available in every grocery store, or most of them, but the flip side is that prices are higher. Are they going to adjust to higher pries or cut back on their consumption? We need three or four months to see how this evens out
The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council concluded that, year over year, June's liquor revenues were only about 0.3 percent below its initial revenue forecast.
If you're interested in the fine print, here it is: By volume, hard-alcohol sales dropped 9.4 percent in June 2012 compared to June 2011, but liquor sales were up 26.6 percent in May of this year compared to May of last year. Bars and restaurants bought 46.7 percent more liquor by volume in May of this year than in May 2011, and consumers bought 19.6 percent more liquor during the same period. Bars and restaurants bought 27.4 percent less liquor by volume between June 2011 and June 2012, and consumers bought 3.0 percent less in June 2012 than they did one year earlier.