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Utah sets alcohol-sales record ahead of Thanksgiving holiday

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s state-owned liquor stores set a record ahead of Thanksgiving as people lined up to grab last-minute wine, beer and spirits, officials said Friday.

Sales hit nearly $3.4 million on Wednesday, the day before the holiday and traditionally the biggest sales day of the year, according to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

That’s a nearly 5 percent increase over the same day last year.

The increasing sales numbers at the state’s 44 stores can be attributed to overall population growth, Wood said, including many people moving in from outside the state that’s home to the Mormon church, which teaches its members to avoid alcohol.

Sales were down a bit in the ski town of Park City amid lackluster snow totals, Wood said. But elsewhere in Utah, officials anticipating big crowds put all hands on deck in the stores and checked identification so cashiers wouldn’t have to pause as people paid for their purchases, Wood said.

At particularly crowded stores, officials also limited the number of customers inside the building at one time.

Total sales in the five days before the holiday topped $10.6 million, a 4 percent increase. The revenue bumps are in line with state trends: Last year Utah liquor stores also a set a record on the day before Thanksgiving.

The number of individual bottles of alcohol sold grew about 1.5 percent. The slower unit growth paired with higher sales figures reflects people spending more on individual bottles, like larger packages of liquor or generally costlier craft beers.

Utah requires residents to purchase products with more than 4 percent alcohol by volume at state-controlled outlets. Liquor is big business for the state and generates about $400 million in annual sales.

Beer with lower alcohol content is available at private grocery stores.

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