Allegheny County tops state in wine, spirits sales |

Allegheny County tops state in wine, spirits sales

Allegheny County residents and visitors must have been thirsty last year.

The county topped the state in wine and spirits sales for the 2013-14 fiscal year and posted one of the biggest year-over-year increases statewide, according to a report by the state Liquor Control Board released Monday.

Alcohol sales in the county totaled more than $271.2 million, up about $11 million, or 4.3 percent, from the previous year. Statewide, sales increased 2.8 percent to more than $2 billion.

Behind Allegheny County in sales were Philadelphia with $228.4 million, Montgomery with $200.8 million, Bucks with $135.7 million, Chester with $120.4 million and Delaware with $77.7 million.

LCB Chairman Joseph “Skip” Brion attributed strong sales growth in Allegheny, Chester and Delaware counties to newly remodeled wine and spirits stores that have driven more purchases and higher price tags per transaction.

“We didn’t open any additional stores in those counties, but we did rebrand and expand several stores,” Brion said in the report. “Rebranding and increasing customer access and convenience are making a difference in our bottom line.”

The LCB undertook five “major projects” in the Pittsburgh region in 2013, including a remodeled store in Pine and an expansion of the state’s largest liquor store in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, said LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman.

Juniata County, a rural area northwest of Harrisburg, posted the largest sales gains, growing by more than 28 percent over last year largely because customers crossed the county line because a store closed in neighboring Perry County, Kriedeman said.

The LCB’s annual Retail Year in Review report ranks counties and stores by sales figures, details what products sell best and outlines the busiest times for state stores.

“The Retail Year in Review is one of the most interesting publications we produce because it shows what consumers are buying and where they’re buying it,” Brion said.

The top-selling items in Western Pennsylvania were Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum in 750 mililiter-bottles, Nikolai vodka, Jack Daniel’s Black Label Whiskey (4 years old) , Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum in 1.5-liter bottles and Vladimir vodka.

Statewide, the top five sellers are the same, with the exception of Fireball cinnamon whisky replacing the larger bottles of Captain Morgan.

Fireball has been gaining in popularity, with sales jumping nearly 230 percent in 2013-14, the report showed.

“Millennials are willing to try new products and experiment,” Kriedeman said. “A few years ago, the hot products were flavored vodkas … but their sales have since leveled off. Consumers have moved to flavored brown spirits, and that trend really started with Fireball.”

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or [email protected].

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