The week leading up to Thanksgiving is always a high volume time for liquor sales, and the action in the Pittsburgh area is always among the heaviest in the state. In fact, PLCB stores in Allegheny County sold more wine and spirits in all of 2012 than any other county in Pennsylvania.
According to the state Liquor Control Board (LCB), the county made up 13.4 percent of state sales, bringing in more than $260 million; Philadelphia was second at $231 million.
Topping 66 other Pennsylvania counties, LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said Allegheny County’s size makes a difference in sales.
“Allegheny County is 745-square-miles versus 143-square-miles in Philadelphia County,” she said, “which would explain why we have more than 20 stores in Allegheny County....20 additional stores.” Philadelphia has 52 state stores and Allegheny County, 76.
While the county may be larger geographically, Philadelphia County has a population of 1.5 million people, outnumbering Allegheny County by about 300,000 people.
Philadelphia also borders Delaware and New Jersey, and historically, people have crossed state lines purchase liquor.
As a whole, Pittsburgh’s six-county region, including Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties, accounted for almost 21 percent of the state’s sales. Philadelphia’s southeastern region of the state made up about 39 percent of state sales.
All Pennsylvania counties are ranked in terms of sales, products and busiest times for state stores.
According to the Kriedeman, the top five products sold last year were bourbon, spiced rum, schnapps, plain vodka and flavored vodka.
“We saw a significant increase in flavored spirits,” she said. “In particular, cinnamon whiskey was up over 340 percent and Wild Turkey American Honey Liquor was up significantly as well over the previous year.”
Kriedeman attributes this growth to the “millennials” because the generation is more likely to try new things and aren’t “brand loyal.”
With more than 5.6 million transactions in November and 7.1 million in December 2012, Kriedeman said the holiday season is always profitable for the LCB.
“We’re coming into the time of year that is very, very busy for all retailers and we’re no exception,” she said. “The holidays, November and December, we see a very good percentage of our sales this time of year.”
Stores on Liberty Avenue in the Strip District and Penn Circle South in Shadyside made the list of top five LCB retailers, bringing in more than $37 million combined last year.