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MELBOURNE, Fla. -- As temperatures in Florida reach unseasonably cold numbers, liquor stores and beer distributors have seen a direct decrease in alcohol sales. The decline hits hard to an industry that has already seen a 10 percent, or more, drop because of the recession.
But the decrease in alcohol sales affects more than businesses. According to USA Today, it also hurts the Florida state tax revenue, which ranges from 48 cents a gallon a beer to $6.50 a gallon for hard liquor. One employee at a local beer distributor told the news outlet that his sales totals were down 5 percent because of the recession, freezing temperatures in January and February, and unseasonable cold weather to end the year. "People drink less when it’s real cold like this," said Ron Chabot, on-premise sales manager for Carroll Distributing in Melbourne.
"During the holidays, the higher-end beers sell better. This is the craziest thing. Domestics are down, but in parts of the county craft beer sales are up,’ he added.
Carroll Distributing is just one local business feeling the pinch. New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time to celebrate with alcohol, but Christmas sales were down 25 percent at Sam’s Liquor Store in West Melbourne. "Christmas was better than regular days, but it was not the same as last year," employee Ash Patel told USA Today. "It may be the economy. People don’t have the money," adding that customers are choosing less expensive brands.
Bob Gibson, director of marketing for ABC Fine Wines and Spirits, seems to agree. "Most people drink just as much they always have. It’s how much they choose to pay for it that changes."