Liquor Prices Go Way Up in Washington State

The state's new rules on liquor sales means pricier booze for consumers

It's a great day for liquor salesman in Washington State, but a bad one for the consumers who buy it. This weekend, new rules for liquor sales took effect; residents voted in November to approve an initiative to make it easier for private businesses to sell alcohol. The problem: liquor prices are rising, and costs are going straight to the consumers' wallets. 

Intitiative 1183 approved businesses of more than 10,000 square feet and other specialty shops to sell liquor, says the Seattle Times. More than 1,600 shops applied for liquor licenses.(The inititiave also changed banned hours of liquor sales, only prohibiting it from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.) While most were excited to buy booze at the grocery store, the high prices gave most some sticker shock.

Reuters reports that the initiative could make per-bottle liquor prices raise between 10 and 30 percent. Markup on wholesale liquor shot up from 52 percent to 72 percent after the initiative was passed. Costco, one of the largest supporters of the measure, told Reuters it would keep prices about 5 percent lower to help offset costs. In reaction to the initiative, some stores reported seeing much higher sales — from $25 per customer to about $80 per customer — likely from thirsty consumers stocking up to avoid high prices.