VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia’s state-owned liquor stores rang up record profits in 2016, according to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Three Virginia Beach ABC stores made the top 10 list of highest gross sales last year:
- 1612 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach – $9,202,992 in gross sales
- 405 30th St., Virginia Beach – $8,399,650 in gross sales
- 3333 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach – $7,699,741 in gross sales
One Hampton store, located on 2400 Cunningham Drive, made $6,442,135 in gross sales.
Last year, the 359 ABC stores across the commonwealth had gross sales of about $895 million – $106 for every resident of Virginia. The stores sold 11.4 million gallons of alcoholic beverages, or 1.4 gallons per capita.
For Virginia officials, what counts most is how much money the stores produce in net profit and state taxes. In 2016, the total was $315 million. That represents a profit margin of more than 35 percent of gross sales.
The amount that the ABC stores funneled into the state treasury has increased by more than one-third over the past five years. (In 2011, the stores’ net profits plus state taxes totaled $235 million.)
Valerie Hubbard, a public relations specialist for the ABC, said an increase in stores might have boosted sales during fiscal year 2016, which ended on June 30.
During the fiscal year, the ABC opened eight new locations across the commonwealth, including one in Floyd County, which had been dry until 2014. In addition, the agency remodeled eight stores and relocated 10 others.
ABC sales may see another increase this year. Since July, stores across the commonwealth began opening at noon on Sundays rather than 1 p.m. Longer hours, of course, mean more opportunity to make a profit.
Which stores sold the most in 2016?
The ABC stores in Fairfax County sold the most alcohol beverages – nearly 1.3 million gallons. Then came Virginia Beach with about 830,000 gallons. But that is to be expected: Fairfax County has 40 ABC stores and a population of about 1.1 million people; Virginia Beach has 14 stores and more than 450,000 residents.
In terms of sales per capita, the top locality was Lexington. The city’s lone ABC store sold a modest 43,340 gallons of alcoholic beverages – but that represented 6.2 gallons for each of Lexington’s 7,045 residents. (Caveat: Lexington is surrounded by Rockbridge County, which doesn’t have an ABC store. Many Rockbridge County residents no doubt buy liquor from the Lexington store, inflating the per-capita statistic.)
Emporia, in Southside Virginia, and Norton, in the state’s southwest corner, had ABC sales of more than 5 gallons per capita. Then came the cities of Williamsburg and Franklin, at about 4 gallons per capita, followed by Charlottesville at 3.8 gallons per capita.
Astute observers may detect a pattern: Lexington is home to the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University; Williamsburg, to the College of William and Mary; and Charlottesville, to the University of Virginia.