Oregonians bought a lot more booze this March than they did in March 2019.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokesman Mark Pettinger says the agency thinks the increase is significant but is still trying to figure out a final count.

"Based on preliminary sales numbers, the increase [from] March 2019 to March 2020 is more than 17 percent," Pettinger says in an email.

Getting an accurate tally is more difficult than the normal monthly accounting because of behavior brought about by various responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pettinger says that based on anecdotal reports, some store operators may have ordered additional inventory because of concerns they might be shut down. (Gov. Kate Brown's March 23 stay-home order allowed liquor stores to remain open, despite such fears.)

The closure of bars and restaurants also complicates OLCC's accounting because those retailers stopped ordering new stock and some of them returned liquor to the stores that supplied them. All of that, Pettinger says, complicates the task of trying to figure out how much more booze Oregon's customers actually purchased.

"At the end of this week, as part of the normal accounting process, the OLCC will be reconciling shipments from the OLCC warehouse, with inventory still on the floor at liquor stores, along with liquor store sales, and returns from bars and restaurants," Pettinger adds.

"We expect this will give a more complete picture of the impact of consumer behavior related to the COVID-19 public health crisis and will report out those numbers next Tuesday April 14."