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Eye On Boise

Wed., Feb. 13, 2013, 7:51 a.m.

Idaho per-capita liquor sales remain low, despite boost from Washington buyers

Idaho’s per-capita liquor consumption remains low, state Liquor Division director Jeff Anderson told legislative budget writers this morning. “We’re well below the national averages, despite the Washington state effect that has had an impact on sales at the border.” He said Washington’s move to privatize liquor sales – in a state that already had the nation’s highest liquor prices, adding a private profit margin to those prices to keep state revenues whole – resulted in “a significant price advantage for us at the border.” If sales to Washington residents are extracted, Anderson said, Idaho’s per-capita liquor sales are “even below the control-state average.”

The liquor division has added 18 stores since 1995, but its current focus is to “get more out of the stores we have as opposed to adding more stores.” The one exception: A new store in Stateline, at the Washington state line, added in 2012, due to pressure on the Post Falls store from cross-border sales. “It’s quickly becoming our No. 1 store,” Anderson said.

The liquor division’s budget request for next year is a “maintenance of service” request, Anderson said, with no new state liquor stores proposed; it does, however, propose remodels or locations for five existing stores. The division's distribution of proceeds to the state this year was $63 million; in the next 10 years, Anderson said forecasts show the division should bring the state $700 million in distributions.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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