Utah sees increased liquor sales in 2016

Image composite, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Utah saw record alcohol sales in 2016, according to an annual report released earlier this week.

The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or DABC, released it’s annual report Tuesday. The Department saw a 7.8 percent increase in sales over the previous fiscal year, which amounts to nearly $406 million. The report covers the period between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.

The $406 million is before sales tax, which brought in an additional $21 million.

More recently, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, the Friday before Christmas saw single-day sales reach $3.7 million, which broke a record for $3.3 million set a month before on the day before Thanksgiving.

Utah liquor sales have grown 7.1 percent over the last 20 years, according to a study presented to the DABC Nov. 29, by Zions Public Finance Inc. Utah’s average alcohol consumption rose from 2.37 gallons in 2010 to 2.76 gallons in 2015.

That percentage has since risen to 2.85 percent within the last year.

Reasons why sales are increasing likely include the state’s growing population which includes non-Mormons who move to Utah and are more likely to drink than members of the Utah-based faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Utah itself was recently ranked as the fastest-growing state in 2016.

An increase in Utah-produced beer and liquor, along with the state’s tourism and hospitality industry, are also factors in rising sales, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

In order to keep up with population growth and demand, it was recommended to the DABC commission during its Nov. 29 meeting to consider the creation of 19 additional liquor stores on top of the 44 the state agency already oversees.

The construction of any new liquor stores first must be approved by the Utah Legislature.

Jeff Wright, DABC commission vice chairman, told Fox 13 News he believes there’s a need for the additional stores, yet said getting 19 isn’t likely.

“Are we going to get 19? No, we’re not going to get 19,” Wright said. “Could we get four? Five? Absolutely, and we should.”

Currently, Utah law allows for one liquor store per 48,000 residents.

Revenue from the state liquor sales is applied to various items and programs.

The DABC keeps $41 million for operating costs to spread across its 44 stores and 536 full- and part-time employees.

  • $104.03 million net profit goes to the state’s general fund.
  • $40.65 million goes to public schools for the School Lunch Program.
  • $21.7 million – the sales tax – is divided between counties and cities.
  • $4.06 million goes to the Department of Public Safety, State Bureau of Investigation and enforcement of state liquor laws.

The remaining $219 million, around 51 percent, covers the cost of liquor sold in the state.

And just what types of alcohol do Utah’s like to drink the most? In 2015, wine came out on top with 3.3 million gallons consumed. Spirits was second with 2.8 million gallons, followed by heavy beer at 1.7 million gallons and flavored malt beverages at 252,454 gallons.

Overall, Utahns consumed 8.2 million gallons of alcohol in 2015.

The top three liquors for sale per volume in their category for 2016 according to the annual report are as follow:


  • Barton Vodka | 1,750 milliliter size | 241,721 units sold | $2.9 million
  • Jack Daniel’s Black Label | 1,000 milliliter size | 77,442 unit sold | $2.2 million
  • Smirnoff Vodka | 1,750 milliliter size | 85,166 units sold | $2.04 million


  • Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay | 750 milliliter size | 56,017 units sold | $917,149
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label | 750 milliliter size | 16,066 units sold | $854,449
  • Bota Box Pinot Grigio | 3000 milliliter size | 42,818 units sold | $845,025

Heavy beers, ciders and flavored malt beverages

  • Squatters Hop Rising Double Ipa | 355 milliliter size | 882,268 units sold | $1.7 million
  • Stella Artois | 350 milliliter size | 570,013 units sold | $1.2 million
  • Icehouse Beer | 355 milliliter size | 1,111,280 units sold | $1.1 million

The DABC annual report doesn’t cover beers that contain less than 4 percent alcohol.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Chris December 30, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Not one of cent of that was mine. I buy all my alcohol in Mesquite, and thus, avoid the ridiculously high prices here and avoid propping up the hypocritical Utah state government.

    • .... December 30, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Chris a lot of people go to Mesquite for the decent liquor prices and the availability of real beer

  • Curtis December 30, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Other possible reasons for increased consumption of alcohol —
    Native Utahns who don’t give a crap what THE CHURCH thinks
    The 2016 election cycle

  • comments December 30, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    A always thought it a little strange for the mormon-run state gov’t to be in the liquor business. In the end cash is king.

    • DB December 30, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      I think that goes back to at least the Silver Reef mining days. Mormons wouldn’t ingest/imbibe certain things but they had no problem selling them to the miners.

    • Real Life December 30, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      It is a big joke that the majority on the Utah DABC board are of the LDS faith.

  • 42214 December 30, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Utah and the Church is so hypocritical. I say Utah and the Church because they are one in the same. Is there an important politician in this state that doesn’t kiss Tommy Monson’s ring. They try to restrict sales and inconvenience consumers but relish the profits and cash flow. Utah should privatize all sales through markets and liquor stores. It would lower prices, increase tax revenue and free the state from personnel costs.. It would also encourage stores like Trader Joe’s to come in the state and provide competition and better choices for the consumer.

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