The Washington Post

Are Marylanders buying booze out of state?

This post has been updated.

‘Tis the season for adult beverages around the fireplace.

If you are imbibing in Maryland, alcohol industry officials — love that phrase — say there’s a decent chance the booze might be from...Delaware.

Spirits sales in Maryland have stagnated, according to a trade group. (Photo by Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Sales in the state are up just .2 percent, below the national average, according to a report by Capital News Service. pegs the national average for sales increases at 3.1 percent.

Sales in Delaware: Up nearly 9 percent.

“A lot of Virginia residents who used to come into Maryland in search of lower prices are simply staying home, and many Maryland consumers are voting with their feet and making their purchases in Delaware,” said David Ozgo, the chief economist for the liquor group.

Sales near the state’s borders have been especially hurt, according to the CNS report, with distilled spirits deliveries down 57 percent in Cecil County.

CNS offered some background on the tax increase in its report:

The tax was imposed with the goal of raising money for healthcare and potentially decreasing underage drinking and alcohol abuse.

Vincent DeMarco , president of the Maryland Healthcare for All Coalition, which advocated for the tax, said the law has met those goals. DeMarco said the decrease in deliveries is the result of a drop in teen drinking and alcohol abuse.

“We think this law is going to save lives, and that’s what those numbers show,” DeMarco said.

(Van Smith, a writer with the Baltimore City Paper, just wrote to me pointing out his blog post offering another explanation for declining sales there.)

Are you spending money outside Maryland for your booze? Has the tax increase caused you to cut back on spending for alcohol?

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


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