Even though many bars and restaurants have not moved to full operation, the pandemic continues to be very good for Pennsylvania coffers.
People are drinking a lot more at home, as sales records are being smashed all around the country.
The state Liquor Control Board on Wednesday, which oversees all wine and spirit sales in the state and is believed to be among the nation’s largest alcohol purchasers, released unaudited financial results for fiscal year 2020-21 reflecting record net income and the largest annual sales increase in PLCB history.
Sales in the most recently completed fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2021, totaled $2.91 billion including liquor and sales taxes — $349.4 million or 13.7% more than the prior year. Sales were $238.5 million, or 8.9%, higher than the system’s previous (pre-COVID-19) record sales of $2.67 billion, in fiscal year 2018-19.
Net income for the year totaled a record $264.9 million, which was $56.1 million, or 26.9%, higher than the prior fiscal year. The board, in a statement, said the increase in net income was due to increased gross profits from sales, which was partially offset by increases in operating expenses and decreases in other revenues like license fees. As relief to restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries affected by the pandemic, the state waived licensing fees in late 2020.
Contributions to state and local governments and other beneficiaries totaled $813.4 million for the fiscal year.
Contributions to the General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services, totaled $764.8 million:
$415.8 million in liquor tax.
$163.9 million in state sales tax.
$185.1 million in cash transfers.
Other PLCB contributions over the course of the fiscal year included the following:
$29.2 million to the Pennsylvania State Police for liquor control enforcement efforts.
$9.6 million in local sales taxes to Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties.
$1.8 million in licensing fees returned to local municipalities.
$5.3 million to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
It is not clear what impact the more recent current supply-chain issues will have on alcohol sales. Pennsylvania recently issued a two-bottle limit on some premium spirits and Champagne. The rationing could affect bars and restaurants more than the casual customer of Pennsylvania’s Fine Wine & Good Spirit stores.
The PLCB will issue its annual report in October.