Multiple Penticton dispensaries and liquor stores have reported a large increase in sales over the past few days, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)

Sales skyrocket at Penticton liquor stores and dispensaries amid COVID-19 pandemic

Liquor store owner recalls customer spending $600 in single transaction

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, locals seem to be stocking up on more than groceries.

Many Penticton liquor stores have reported a large increase in sales over the past week, as have local dispensaries.

READ MORE: BC Liquor Stores to remain open, for now, despite COVID-19

Of the five establishments the Western News contacted, all five reported an increase in sales of at least 20 per cent over their daily seasonal averages. One liquor store reported selling over $600 of merchandise to a single customer.

Liquor sales specifically, have skyrocketed. Clancy’s Liquor Store, Last Call Liquor Mart, and Government Street Liquor Store & Wine Shoppe all reported seeing at least a 20 per cent increase in daily sales since last Thursday (March 12).

Bryar Balon, Clancy’s Liquor Store manager, says sales at his store are up “anywhere between 30 and 40 per cent” each day.

Balon also says the store has implemented precautionary measures such as refusing to take cash and limiting the amount of people allowed in the store to 10 at once. Despite the increase in sales, Balon says they’re not having trouble keeping shelves stocked.

Last Call Liquor Mart also reported that sales are up due to what owner, Fred Vassilaki, called “panic buying.” Overall, Vassilaki said sales are up about 20 per cent, with a handful of customers spending $400-$500 at once.

The most money spent in a single transaction was over $600, according to Vassilaki. Delivery orders at Last Call Liquor have also increased.

Jeff Leonard, owner of Government Street Liquor Store & Wine Shoppe, said that his shop has seen an increase of over 30 per cent in sales on some days.

As for cannabis, sales at dispensaries are also increasing.

Andrew Faraday manages Cannabis Cottage and says sales have increased by 20 per cent in the last few days as people “stock up.” Faraday said in addition to his regular customers buying more product than usual, he’s also had a number of new customers come in over the last few days.

Mayor John Vassilaki co-owns Last Call Liquor with his son Fred. He said while he hasn’t been to the store in over a week and a half, he is aware that sales have been increasing. However, he condemned hoarding and “extreme” behaviour.

“I wouldn’t recommend that people who are self-isolating hit alcohol to pass the time,” said Vassilaki.

“Everything you do has to be within reason. The hoarding and overbuying is getting out of hand. It’s not fair to the rest of the public who just want to shop normally.

“I think it’s despicable, especially when they sell it (hoarded items) for profit. People think it’s the end of the world and it isn’t. People are resilient and we’ll take care of it.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Penticton man offers free delivery services to those in need

Jesse Day
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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