Oregonians spent the spring drinking alone, but sales figures show they still slaked their thirst.
Liquor sales to individuals in Oregon increased by 45% between May 2019 and May 2020, new data from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission shows. That marks the third month in a row that monthly liquor sales have increased by more than 40% compared to the same month last year, thanks chiefly to the statewide closure of bars.
In May 2019, individual consumers statewide spent $43.5 million on liquor. This May, they spent $63.2 million.
That increase is part of a sustained trend during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, individual consumers spent $57.9 million on liquor. That's a 48.4% increase from April 2019, when consumers spent $39 million. In March, statewide liquor sales to individuals totaled $59.3 million, compared to $41.2 million in March of last year—a 44.4% jump.
While retail sales to consumers continue to spike, sales to liquor licensees like bars, restaurants and social clubs have continued to decline as those establishments remained closed during the statewide shutdown.
In May, sales to licensees dropped 86.6%, from $13.9 million last year to $1.9 million this year. This April, liquor sales to licensees dropped a whopping 99.3%—from $13.5 million in 2019 to a paltry $88, 211 this year. In March, they decreased by 53.3%, from $13.8 million to $6.4 million.
Yet overall, monthly net liquor sales (consumer and licensee combined) were higher than they were this time last year, increasing by $11 million in March, $5.6 million in April, and $7.7 million in May.
It's unclear how liquor sales to individuals and licensees will be affected in the coming months, as restaurants and bars statewide reopen and Oregonians are no longer relegated to drinking at home only.