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05.2010

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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NEWS FLASH: NEW HAMPSHIRE’S SELLING MORE LIQUOR

Was there ever really any doubt that this would happen? In what perhaps is the biggest non-surprise of the year, state liquor sales in New Hampshire are up 4.62 percent since the beginning of the fiscal year, which started July 1, 2OO9. This, of course, is around the time when the 6.25% tax on alcohol went into effect in Massachusetts. Retail sales are up 6.5 percent in New Hampshire, with restaurants sales showing just a O.6 percent increase. Off-premise sales are up 1.2 percent this fiscal year. And people aren’t buying cheap stuff. According to state liquor commissioner Joseph Mollica, vodka sales are up 4.2 percent and people seem to be buying higher-end brands. When it comes to bourbon, with sales up 3.6 percent, they’re trending toward super-premiums. But, Mollica said, people are also shopping smarter. The state is selling a lot more wine – 8.8 percent more this fiscal year than last – and that’s where less expensive brands are selling well. Things are on track for a very good year. Net profits are up 9 percent, $7 million, he said. And with just a few months left in the fiscal year, the state is entering the busiest months for alcohol sales. The state operates 77 stores; some of the state’s busiest outlets are on the highway. Mollica acknowledged those “smarter shoppers” he referred to may well be Massachusetts residents shopping smarter by crossing the state line to take advantage of New Hampshire prices. Really?

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