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  • Jim M.

Is this the new normal?...

We’ve been breathlessly following the reports of cities, states and countries returning to ‘normal’, of vaccinations being expanded, travel restrictions being lifted and restaurants expanding their seating capacity. Yes, there are multiple reasons to be cautiously optimistic.

How about the Liquor Store Industry? Good or bad, we received a ‘lift’ when the pandemic first hit; many owners reporting that every day of operation was just like Christmas Eve.

Before March 2020, we could expect a sales increase year over year of about 3%-4% when doing a weekly comparison.

In mid-March (the first shutdown announcement) that number soared. For 2 weeks we saw same store sales more than double. Instead of a 4% increase, we were seeing 140%!

In April, things started to stabilize as we accepted our new way of life. The same weekly comparison showed increases of 40%-50% over the same weeks the previous year. These numbers stayed consistent until November, when they dropped to about 25%. Still a healthy growth number.

Today, the sales numbers have stabilized further, but still show a 15%-25% increase, numbers that make other retailer categories envious. Consumer patterns have changed and more consumption is done at home.

So, is this the new ‘normal’? Many retailers do business differently than they did a year ago. Store pickup, online shopping and delivery services have certainly become more prevalent and it seems unlikely we will go back to the days pre-Covid with respect to our shopping habits.

While some of the early ‘highs’ have subsided, I think it’s safe to say that many of the changes put in place at stores are here to stay. Congratulations go to each of you, for your recognition of an opportunity in a crisis and willingness to adapt your sales to meet these new challenges.

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