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Pennsylvania

LCB reports 4.2 percent increase in sales

| Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, 10:45 p.m.
A state operated Wine & Spirits store in Jeannette on Oct. 28, 2015
Sean Stipp | Trib Total Media
A state operated Wine & Spirits store in Jeannette on Oct. 28, 2015

Upgraded stores, better customer service and successful product promotions drove up sales at state wine and spirits stores last year, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Alcohol sales were $2.34 billion for the fiscal year that ended June 30, up 4.2 percent over the previous year, according to figures released Wednesday by the agency.

The LCB owns and operates more than 600 liquor stores statewide and licenses some 20,000 alcohol purchasers and retailers.

Agency spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said 23 stores were remodeled and five were built last year.

“Last year we hired 20 additional retail wine specialists, bringing our workforce of highly trained and eager-to-help experts in green aprons to a statewide total of 81,” Brassell said.

Additionally, monthly sales promotions, the Chairman's Selection programs and store end-cap displays that featured themes and recipes throughout the year enticed shoppers to try new products, she said.

In addition to an $80 million transfer to state coffers, the LCB sent more than $464 million in liquor and sales tax to the state's general fund. It forwarded nearly $8.5 million in sales tax back to Philadelphia and Allegheny County, which have higher sales tax rates than the rest of the state, figures show.

Changes in how state agencies must report pension obligations and new calculations for workers' compensation and agency retiree benefits affected the LCB's expenses. The impact accounted for a $49.2 million reduction in net income for the 2014-15 fiscal year, officials said.

Brassell said the agency will be releasing detailed retail reports and a comprehensive annual report this year.

She noted that three products had large year-over-year sales increases: Tito's vodka shot up 64 percent; Peter Vella wines grew 50 percent; and Fireball cinnamon whisky sales increased about 48 percent.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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