Alcohol sales boom in New York with liquor stores declared ‘essential’

Source:AFP Published: 2020/3/25 18:23:41

Spirits shaken by coronavirus? Add some ice and pour out a "quarantini."

Few people are seen on a street in New York City, the United States, March 19. Photo: Xinhua

Or two, or three - alcohol sales are skyrocketing in New York, the epicenter of the US pandemic, where liquor stores have been deemed "essential" even as most businesses closed.

Daniel Tallman of Manhattan's Sutton Wine Shop says sales have jumped three-fold on some days, pointing to the closure of Broadway and the cancellation of the major college basketball "March Madness" tournament as turning points.

Such shutdowns were once unfathomable and triggered a "that's kind of serious!" reaction, Tallman told AFP.

The New York State Liquor Authority confirmed a significant hike in alcohol sales, but declined to give specific figures.

"A lot of people drink wine with their meals, and I think it's more of a habit," said Stefan Kalogridis, the authority's president.

Declaring liquor stores essential, he said, "was the right decision by the governor."

Evan Cuciniello, a sales associate at Ambassador Wines, said business has been "very good" - while customers used to buy two or three bottles, "now it's a lot of cases."

"Everybody wants to drink."

With bars and restaurants closed, more and more people are drinking at home - and sometimes attending virtual happy hours via online apps like FaceTime or Zoom to try and ward off loneliness. But it is not all fun and games: one store manager, who asked to remain anonymous, said "business is booming" but people are "very stressed."

A lot of his clients work on Wall Street, he said, predicting that "when this is over, rehab clinics will make a lot of money."

On March 16, when New York closed schools, bars and restaurants and Wall Street collapsed 12.98 percent - its worst decline since Black Monday in October 1987 - sales at one online spirits service shot up 131 percent, said Lindsey Andrews, president of Minibar Delivery.

Posted in: AMERICAS

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