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As Liquor Retailers Cope With Covid 19, PLCB Shutters All Stores And Online Sales Indefinitely

March 17, 2020

Retailers are experiencing a run on inventory nationwide, but they’re also facing closures as consumers load up on supplies and officials take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) announced Monday the indefinite closure of online sales and all 585 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores and licensee service centers, beginning at 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Sales at FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com ceased at 5 p.m. Monday.

The FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com halt was made to allow the PLCB to phase down operations of its Montgomery County fulfillment center. Orders already placed for delivery to non-store addresses will continue to be processed and delivered, but will be delayed due to very high volume. Toward the end of the month, the PLCB will re-evaluate its operations, guided by the Governor’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars to close their dine-in facilities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Businesses offering carry-out, delivery, and drive-through food and beverage service may continue to do so, but eating and drinking inside restaurants and bars is temporarily prohibited.

In North Carolina, the state’s two largest ABC boards have been reporting sales spikes. Mecklenburg County ABC said retail sales are up 27.4% for the month to date, while Wake County ABC saw retail sales increase by 38% last week alone. The Mecklenburg County ABC Board operates 28 retail stores, and the Wake County ABC Board operates 26 retail stores. As of Monday, all 435 retail ABC stores in the state were open.

In Michigan, retailers are preparing for a further spike in sales as governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order directing dine-in services of all bars and restaurants to close by 3 p.m. yesterday through March 30. With the closure of dine-in service for bars and restaurants in Ohio and the cancellation of most events, off-premise sales in that state have also risen sharply.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s 388 stores remain open, but all in-store tastings are canceled, and the ABC will temporarily close its Hampton Regional Enforcement Office for two weeks because it’s located within the Peninsula Health District closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Virginia ABC officials are recommending customers call before they go to stores or offices.—Kevin Barry

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