Liquor has always been a vice Americans have refused to give up. Even during the COVID-19 quarantine, alcohol sales have been up 55 percent nationally, according to a report from the Nielson Co. in the week ending March 21.
And that national trend appears to be true in Orange County too.
The Station Liquor store in Tustin has seen an increase of 150 to 200 percent in alcohol sales since the pandemic hit Orange County, according to one of the store’s owners.
“People drink when it's good, people drink when it's bad. That’s why liquor stores are recession proof,” he said.
Nationally, wine sales went up 66 percent and beer went up 42 percent, while online alcohol sales went up a staggering 243 percent, according to the Nielsen report.
Even regular consumers are drinking more than average.
“[My boyfriend and I] are drinkers,” said 26-year-old Orange Coast College student Sophia Lorenzo. “But since the pandemic it’s been out of control. I know this isn’t normal and I should really cut back, but when we are stuck at home I feel hopeless,” she said.
Other college students agree.
“Rona has me drinking pretty much every day, and I used to only drink a couple nights a week,” one Irvine Valley College student said.
During this time, restaurants with liquor licenses have been granted regulatory relief, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s website.
For those who don’t know how to make their favorite cosmopolitan or daiquiri, restaurants have offered to-go drinks that must be accompanied by food, according to the ABC website.
Those who chose to purchase an alcoholic to-go drink must transport it in their trunk or elsewhere in their vehicle out of reach, the website stipulated.
As the pandemic takes hold, The Station Liquor store owner said he has noticed that “cheap liquor has gone up significantly, [and] more expensive alcohol has decreased. People just want a head change,” he said.
To offer some help, Lorenzo said staying more active and focusing on school has helped her fight the urge to drink.