By Steve Hubrecht
While most Columbia Valley businesses have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, business has actually been steady, if not outright good, for local liquor and cannabis establishments.
All three Invermere liquor stores – the B.C. Liquor Store and Copper City Liquor Store downtown, and the Invermere Liquor Store at the crossroads – confirmed that they have seen increased sales since the pandemic and associated self-isolating began.
“It is up and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. People seem to be afraid that we’ll get closed down soon or something, so they have been coming in and super-sizing, stocking up,” said Invermere Liquor Store supervisor Bruce Coates.
“The sales are slightly higher than this same week last year, considering the ski hill and golf courses are closed and we do not have the usual level of part-time homeowners visiting the valley,” said Copper City Liquor Store manager Julie St. Amand, speaking just after the Easter long weekend. “People are buying larger sizes of beer cases and spirit and wine bottles than usual to try and reduce their trips out. The warehouses are also stocking out on inventory in some cases, so it forces us to buy large bottles in order to keep a particular spirit or wine in stock.”
The local cannabis stores reported a somewhat similar trend, although both said that in contrast to liquor stores, they haven’t seen so much a bump in sales as a change in how much customers are buying at one time.
“It’s hard to say if it’s up or down,” said Blooming World co-owner Marjorie Fournier. “The first week (of the pandemic) was busy certainly. People were stocking up. But the next few weeks it slowed down.”
Fournier added that sales had again picked up recently, and said it was perhaps not coincidental that this was coming just as people who have lost their jobs were starting to receive their COVID-19 employment insurance payments. “Overall Easter was busier for us this year than last,” she said.
“People are coming in less often, but they are buying more at one time.”
The Invermere Cannabis Store at the crossroads reported the exact same thing.
“Sales are up a bit, even if customer count is down a lot,” said Invermere Cannabis Store manager Leslie Carlton. “Customers are purchasing larger quantities, so even though people are coming in the door less often our sales have kept up.”
Carton added it’s no surprise that people spending far more time at their homes than normal may be seeking ways to divert their attention and alleviate potential boredom.