What are Virginians doing during the pandemic? Some are drinking

Heather Curtis


WASHINGTON (WMAL) – Virginians are home bored and stressed during the Coronavirus pandemic and buying more wine and distilled spirits. From Sunday, March 15 to Saturday, March 21 Virginia ABC stores raked in just over $30 million, a 59% increase from the same time period last year according to spokesperson Taylor Thornberg. Northern Virginia saw the biggest regional increase in sales of spirits and Virginia-made wine: 65%.

“In speaking with our store associates, they have said there’s been an increase in foot traffic in the stores,” Thornberg said.

The ABC stores only sell spirits and Virginia-made wine. Thornberg said usually restaurants make up 17-18% of the spirit sales, but from March 15 to March 21 the percentage dropped to 2.5. Even though restaurants aren’t allowed to host customers in their dining rooms during the pandemic, they are allowed to serve beer and wine in closed containers to curbside or delivery customers, but they are not allowed to sell mixed drinks.

“So pretty much all of that sales increase came from retail customers,” Thornberg said.

With customers flocking to stores, new protocols will go into place Friday to keep customers and employees safe.

Starting Friday, stores state-wide will be reducing their hours from noon to 7 p.m. seven days a week according to Thornberg.

“But we will stay open as long as it’s safe for our employees and our customers,” Thornberg said.

They will be putting tape on the floors so people waiting in line will be standing six feet apart, according to Thornberg, and limiting the number of customers in a store at one time to 10.

Some stores will soon start offering curbside service if they have enough employees. Thornberg said you can pull up, call the store to let them know you’re there, and then they can take your order, bring it to your vehicle and put it in your trunk.

They are asking customers to shop online and just go to the store to pick up their alcohol because that limits the amount of time people spend in stores.

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