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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington liquor sales picked back up in July, the second month people were able to buy liquor in Washington grocery stores and other markets. Sales were up 15.4 percent compared with July 2011.
State officials attribute the jump in sales to consumers, as well as bars and restaurants, buying again in July after skipping some purchases in June. Sales figures show they stocked up in May before expected price increases under the new system, with sales to restaurants and bars in May up nearly 47 percent, and sales to consumers up nearly 20 percent.
June sales to bars and restaurants fell 27 percent from a year earlier, and sales to consumers were down 3 percent.
"Apparently they emptied their pantries and are going back for more," said Mike Gowrylow, spokesman for the state Department of Revenue.
Sales were also up for the three months that ended in July. Liquor sales volume increased 10.7 percent compared with the same three months in 2011.
State officials say prices are still higher than under the state-run system, but they went down a bit in July.
Tax revenues have also increased, with the state collecting $68 million during the three months ending in July.
"We need more months of collection experience to establish a firm trend," Gowrylow said.
He noted that studies from other states show that when liquor is more available to people, they buy more. In Washington, consumers are buying more at this point, despite higher prices.