Sales at BC Liquor Store were up 40 per cent for the month of March. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

B.C. liquor, cannabis sales up in March, now levelled off to seasonal norms

Sale figures are not released, but percentages show huge percentage increases

When the province declared a state of emergency to support the COVID-19 response in mid-March, BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) saw an ‘uncharacteristic’ increase in customer volume.

“The trend was similar to the increased activity experienced by grocery stores,” a Ministry of Attorney General spokesperson told the Tribune.

Sales figures for BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) or BC Cannabis Stores (BBCS) are not released as those statistics are considered confidential business information, however the ministry provided an outline of sales across the province.

Over the last two weeks of March cask wine sales increased by 144 per cent, sales of spirits sold in 1.75 litre containers increased by 153 per cent, sales of beer sold in 24 packs increased by 120 per cent and counter sales at BCLS were up 40 per cent for the month of March.

Since the end of March, sales have levelled off to seasonal norms.

READ MORE: B.C. premier hosts free virtual concert to bring people together amid COVID-19

Over the same period, BC Cannabis Stores have also experienced an increase in sales across both its network of retail stores and on its ecommerce channel.

“As we continue to support customers in safely accessing non-medical cannabis products, BC Cannabis Stores has implemented a number of changes to its services during the COVID-19 pandemic in line with orders and advice from Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer,” the spokesperson noted.

One such change is the addition of an in-store call and collect service, which enables customers to call ahead to reserve product, and pick it up in-store, limiting the length of time required to be in the store.

On Wednesday, the provincial government extended retail liquor service in B.C. in a move to “provide greater opportunities for physical distancing for seniors and people who are immuno-compromised.

“Liquor retailers, such as wine stores or private liquor stores, throughout the province are now allowed to temporarily operate between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. daily, if they choose to do so,” the Ministry of Attorney General said in a news statement.

The new policies are effective immediately and will remain in effect until July 15, 2020. These changes do not override any additional requirements or limitations placed on businesses regarding hours of liquor service by local governments or First Nations.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. allows private liquor stores to open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.



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