Boozy business boom: local bottle shops see business soar at Thanksgiving

Boozy business boom: local bottle shops see business soar at Thanksgiving
A shopper checks out a four-pack at Beer Run in Charlottesville. Sales have been up during the pandemic, especially online. (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Central Virginia’s breweries, wineries, and bottle shops have caught some of this year’s larger alcohol sales boom. One in Charlottesville says online sales have already exceeded expectations, and the holiday season to date has been even better.

Beer Run sells a little bit of everything, from beer and wine, to snacks and meals. While the pandemic has offered a boost to alcohol retailers, places like Beer Run with in-person service have still seen a drop in foot traffic.

“It’s definitely been down,” Beer Run’s Will Norris said. “We’re down to about 40 or 50% capacity. We’re usually doing a lot more growler fills, lots more draft pours, all that kind of stuff, like people enjoying beer on site.”

Where they’ve seen a big boom is in online and retail sales.

“We’re up like 150%, on the retail front so yeah it’s been insane” Norris said. “Leading up to Thanksgiving, we had more and more people doing online orders more and more people coming in and getting whole cases, supplying for the long weekend.”

The size of that online boom actually caught them off guard, overwhelming their current sales format. That’s something they’re in the process of fixing.

“We’re actually rolling out a new point of sale system to be able to keep up with all that,” Norris explained. “Our current system is really bogged down.”

The size of the boom is not surprising. A new Mayo Clinic survey suggests 70% of 18 to 25 year olds have increased their alcohol consumption during the pandemic. All signs point to the holidays, already a busy time for the booze industry, being even busier.

“The kind of whole season with pumpkin beers, all that kind of seasonal stuff that was just through the roof,” Norris said. “I think because it’s harder to celebrate outside of the house, and we’re trying to find ways to like bring the Christmas spirit, or the fall time, the harvest season, into our own houses.”

Norris says the specialty, seasonal beers are really what has been selling the fastest — so if you have a particular favorite, be aware: it might go quick.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.