Alcohol Sales Up in Northern Michigan, Despite Bar & Restaurant Closures

Alcohol sales went up hundreds of thousands of dollars last year during the pandemic, despite restaurants and bars being closed in doors for several months.

“There’s people in here, in and out all day long, all day long,” says Nadia Bills, manager of Cadillac Party Store.

Bills says last year the store saw a 78 percent increase in alcohol sales:

“We are extremely busy in here in the summer because we have the boaters and of course I have the ice cream shop in here as well.”

According an annual report by the Michigan Department Of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs Liquor Control Commission (LARA), alcohol sales in Wexford County increased by nearly $900,000 in 2020 compared to 2019, Missaukee County saw a $300,000 increase, while alcohol sales in Grand Traverse County rose by nearly $4 million.

Click here to look at LARA’s 2019 Licensee Spirit Purchase Data by county and LARA’s 2020 data.

“It really increased, there was times I would come in here on a delivery and I couldn’t walk in my cooler because there was no room,” says Bills.

Michigan State Police say although bars and restaurants were closed for indoor dining, the Cadillac Post saw a three percent increase in drunk driving arrests, while the rest of the state saw a five percent decrease.

Lt Derrick Carroll, public information officer with the Michigan State Police seventh district, says, “We have people from all over the country who have vacation properties here who are now working remotely, so that could be attributed to the 3 percent increase in northern Michigan verses the 5 percent decrease throughout the state.”

Even with bars and restaurants reopening their dining rooms, Bills says she doesn’t think sales will go down anytime soon:

“I’m happy with it. Keeps us busy.”