NORFOLK, Va. — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, one can still feel the hustle and bustle of liquor, beer and wine stores leading up to the new year. One last call for alcohol, to bring in the midnight countdown.
“Well, me and my friends are about to turn up in the house because we can’t go out," Tari Rodgers said, shopping for some last minute supplies at the Virginia ABC near Norfolk's Neon District. “There’s so many other people we want to bring in, but we have to protect us and our kids.”
“I think I'm going to miss not watching Times Square, they’ll have it but I'll miss the crazy people not being there," shopper Terrence Whitaker said.
While a pandemic has changed almost everything about 2020, it cannot change the fact that the calendar is still switching to 2021.
In a year when COVID-19 precautions have changed celebration plans, local liquor stores, beer and wine stores were still packed Thursday with last minute shoppers.
“With stay-at-home orders and reduced occupancy in Virginia and across the country, there were more purchases to drink at home," said Travis Hill, the CEO of Virginia ABC.
Hill said the pandemic brought increased liquor sales as more people enjoyed cocktails from their homes instead of outdoors.
Data provided by Virginia ABC shows more than $900 million in gross sales since March 2020. April was the only month between its March-November timespan that saw less than $100 million in statewide sales.
New Years Eve, one of the busiest days for the state’s alcohol sales, is expected to be just as profitable in 2020 as it was in 2019. So, despite a different look, Virginians across Hampton roads and the Commonwealth are still finding a way to toast to a new year.
“I looked back, 2019 New Years Eve, we did more than $10 million across the commonwealth. We expect to do that and more this year," Hill said.