April 07, 2020
Pennsylvania residents have found themselves in a bind when it comes to purchasing alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down most physical stores that sell liquor, wine and beer.
All Fine Wine & Good Spirits locations across the state have been closed since March 17 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those who try to cross the border have found long lines in New Jersey and state troopers in Delaware ready to admonish them. Not to mention, bootlegging liquor and wine from other states is still illegal in Pennsylvania.
On April 1, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board opened up its online store for limited sales across the state. As most eager shoppers found out, the website is carefully controlled and only permits a certain number of visitors and orders per day.
"Access continues to be randomized to avoid overwhelming the site with high traffic, prevent order abuse, and prolong access throughout the day, so that order availability isn’t exhausted in seconds or minutes each day," the PLCB said in a statement.
Still, there's been plenty of business generated by the website thus far. From April 1 to April 5, Fine Wine & Good Spirits accepted approximately 4,300 orders worth $386,000 in online sales.
The PLCB provided PhillyVoice a breakdown of the top 10 products that were purchased online in the first five days of the site's reopening.
1. Tito's Handmade Vodka 80 Proof - 1,030 orders
2. Smirnoff Vodka 80 Proof - 401 orders
3. Jack Daniel's Old No 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey 80 Proof - 380 orders
4. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum 70 Proof - 339 orders
5. Platinum 7X Vodka 80 Proof - 263 orders
6. Absolut Vodka 80 Proof - 260 orders
7. Jim Beam Straight Bourbon 80 Proof - 237 orders
8. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum PET 70 Proof - 220 orders
9. Jameson Irish Whiskey 80 Proof - 213 orders
10. Fireball Cinnamon Whisky 66 Proof - 211 orders
Tito's Handmade Vodka has become a clear favorite among Pennsylvania residents. It was the most widely purchased liquor product in the state in fiscal year 2018-19.
The extraordinary circumstance that has forced Fine Wine & Good Spirits to move sales online during this period could end up having a major impact on how Pennsylvanians buy liquor and wine in the future.
In all of fiscal year 2018-19, the online store generated about 39,000 orders, totaling approximately $5 million in sales. In just five days — with an imposed limit on customers — the site recorded 4,300 orders.
"We are evaluating fulfillment capacity on a daily basis to optimize the number of orders we can accept each day, and the number of orders accepted each day will vary until we can better understand demand and fulfillment capacity," the PLCB said in a statement. "To date, we have been able to increase order capacity, and we expect that we will continue to do so."