COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Ohio liquor sales grew in 2021, though fewer customers were buying for home use.

State liquor agencies sold 17.3 million gallons of high-proof alcohol last year (i.e. not beer and wine), which was a 3.48% increase on the 16.7 million gallons sold in 2020, according to data provided by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

Gallonage is the most apples-to-apples measure because it takes out any price variations, but the dollar sales tell a similar story.

The $1.72 billion in 2021 sales was up 9.7% from $1.57 billion in sales in 2020.

The increase was driven not by direct retail sales to consumers stocking their home bars, but rather by a resurgence in the restaurant and bar business in 2021 after the Covid-19 constrictions many faced in 2020.

Wholesale sales were impacted in 2020 by the temporary closing of bars and restaurants around the state and the continued limited operations for much of the year.

Gallonage dropped 33.3% to wholesale buyers between 2019 and 2020 while dollar amounts declined the same. That rebounded in 2021 as gallonage rose 53.4% and dollar sales were up 60.6%. On a two-year basis, wholesale gallonage was up 2.22% while dollars were up 7.03%.

More than 3.95 million gallons of spirits were sold wholesale last year in the state for $373.5 million

Retail sales direct to consumers saw the inverse as it is believed many stocked up on spirits for home consumption amid the shutdowns in 2020.

Gallonage rose 24.5% from 2019 to 2020 while dollars were up 37.1%. Gallons actually dropped from 2020 to 2021, falling 5.5% with dollars essentially flat at a scant 0.87% increase. On a two-year timeframe gallons are up 17.5% and dollars are up 38.3%

More than 13.3 million gallons of spirits were sold at retail last year tallying $1.35 billion.

January, February, April, and November saw the biggest year-over-year increases in total sales. October was the only month to see a decline as gallons dropped by 0.94%, though dollar sales still increased.

Ohio’s spirituous liquor business is managed by the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. The inventory is owned by the JobsOhio Beverage System, a nonprofit entity that funds economic development group JobsOhio through its exclusive franchise agreement with the state.

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