SPOKANE, Wash. — Idaho State Liquor Director Jeff Anderson said November sales were up 40 percent compared with the year before in Moscow, a college town along the state line.
Idaho liquor stores in Post Falls, a short commute from Spokane, were also up about 40 percent since July. The state has opened a new liquor store in State Line — a small town incorporated in 1947 so it could sell liquor and have slot machines — to relieve pressure on the Post Falls store.
The Washington Department of Revenue says the average price of a bottle of liquor has dropped since the first month of the state’s privatization, from $25.35 a liter to $24.06 in October.
But that’s still up from $21.59 in 2011, according to a story published Monday in The Spokesman-Review.
Part of the reason for the increase is that the proposal was designed to prevent Washington from losing money after it lost its monopoly. Essentially, that means stores have to find a way to squeak out a profit even after the state gets the same cut.
“It’s just not possible to do both and have prices do anything but go up, at least in the near term,” Anderson said.
Under the old system, there were 328 stores that sold liquor in Washington. There are now more than 1,500 stores. Even so, in the first five months of privatized liquor sales, Washington stores sold 12.4 million liters of liquor, down from 13.3 million liters in the same period a year earlier in the state’s monopolized system.
There are potential reasons for the drop besides increased prices. One is that drinkers are flocking to other states to buy booze.
A bigger reason, more likely, is that people and businesses stocked up on liquor in the final month that state stores were in existence in fear of higher prices, and their stash isn’t yet depleted.
State stores in Idaho aren’t the only shops benefiting from the change. Liquor sales in Oregon increased 9.4 percent in October 2012, compared with the year before. At Oregon’s 12 stores near its border with Washington, sales increased by 34 percent.