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Seattle Retailer Downtown Spirits Was Impacted Early By COVID-19 Crisis

March 27, 2020

While beverage alcohol retailers around the country mostly saw their sales leap as the COVID-19 outbreak intensified over the last couple of weeks, Seattle’s Downtown Spirits took an early hit. Located amid Amazon’s corporate campus in the heart of Seattle, the store—which normally does a brisk corporate-delivery program—was immediately impacted when the tech company closed its offices on March 4, Marques Warren, Downtown owner, tells SND. “Seattle is a ghost town,” Warren said of the city that was one of the first impacted by the breakout. “There are few walk-in customers.”

Corporate delivery for Downtown Spirits plunged by 90% over the two weeks ended March 21, Warren said. Remaining corporate customers have indicated that they’ll be closing their offices and not reordering until they reopen. “The bright spot has been Drizly,” he added, noting that at-home delivery sales have accelerated during the period. Home delivery sales for Downtown Spirits jumped by 29% for the March 8-14 period, and last week they skyrocketed by 105%. As for consumer buying trends, Warren said, “Rings are higher, and it’s more spirits.”

Due to the shifts in store traffic and e-commerce, Warren, who was named a Market Watch Leader last year, has made the needed adjustments. Store hours have been reduced, and daytime deliveries—which previously had been mainly reserved for corporate accounts—have been pushed back to later in the day. “We’ve rebalanced the schedules for our drivers, and are even hiring additional part-time drivers,” Warren said. “We need to be flexible. We don’t know if any of our employees are going to get sick, and we want to be able to maintain the business.” —Terri Allan

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