Local liquor stores see booming alcohol sales amid coronavirus pandemic

At least some businesses are doing well.

From Downtown to Belmont Shore, liquor stores in Long Beach say they’re seeing a boom in alcohol sales as more people are staying home in the coronavirus pandemic.

While many businesses are closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, liquor stores have been allowed to remain open as “essential.” And owners say they’re seeing big sales numbers as many people are heading to their neighborhood corner stores to avoid long lines at supermarkets.

Joel McCullough, owner of Mac’s on 2nd in Belmont Shore, said he’s seeing sales numbers that he typically only sees doing holiday weekends and big events like the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade. He’s had to up his beer orders three weeks in a row and estimates an overall 40% boost in sales.

And it’s not just booze. Basic staples that used to collect dust are now flying off the shelves, he said.

“People are just buying everything – beer, wine, bread, pasta sauce, ramen noodles – you name it,” he said.

Joel McCullough, owner of Mac’s on 2nd in Belmont Shore. Photo by Kelly Puente

Nationwide, alcohol sales shot up 55% percent last month as more people are following “stay at home orders” to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to Nielsen, a marketing research and ratings firm.

Spirits—such as gin, tequila and vodka—jumped 75% compared to the same time las year, while wine sales were up 66% and beer sales rose 42%. Online alcohol sales have skyrocketed 242%.

Joseph Rizo, manager at Belmont Heights Market, said bottles of vodka, whisky and tequila have been popular, along with all kinds of wine, cider and beer. He said the owner’s other two markets in Downtown and the Peninsula are also seeing increase sales.

We’re also selling out ice cream” he said. “Ice cream is definitely big right now.”

Comfort food is also big. 

According to Nielsen, nationwide ice cream sales last month rose 50%, while potato chips jumped 60% and chocolate was up 21%.

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Kelly Puente is a general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. Her prolific reporting has taken her all over Southern California—even to the small Catalina Island town of Two Harbors. She is a Tiki mug collector and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].