Pennsylvania wine, liquor sales continue to set new records |

Pennsylvania wine, liquor sales continue to set new records

Deb Erdley

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is toasting a new retail sales record.

The agency that operates more than 600 state stores statewide, and licenses more than 20,000 beverage alcohol producers and retailers, posted $2.67 billion in retail sales for wine and spirits in the fiscal year ending June 30 . That represented an increase of 2.9% over last year’s $2.59 billion in sales.

Officials culled those figures from an unaudited financial report issued this week.

It showed net income of $191 million. Officials attributed the growing profit line, which topped the prior year by 20.7%, to reduced expenses for workers compensation and employee retirement benefits.

Initially, state officials worried that wine sales at grocery and other retail outlets would put a damper on agency sales. While sales, which have grown every year for the past two decades, continued to grow under the new licensing arrangements, the growth has slowed, falling from a rate of 4.2% in 2014-15 to 2.9% this year.

On the upside, sales continued to increase at agency-owned state stores even as the number of grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants and hotels permitted to sell wine grew from 734 statewide in 2017-18 to 1,106 last year.

Although officials could not break out net income numbers of the agency’s wholesale arm, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board spokesman Shawn Kelly said the agency posted $135.9 million in sales to those permit holders last year. The year before, the agency recorded sales of $105.9 million in that category.

“This is only the second full year for those sales,” Kelly said.

He said the agency returned a record $191 million to the state general fund last year.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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