Should Utah Build 19 More Liquor Stores?

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) Utah needs more state liquor stores and a new report says the state could build 19 new outlets this year alone.  By 2030 the state could build a total of 37 new stores.
 
The 74 page report prepared by Zions Public Finance, Inc. was presented Tuesday to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The firm has been working on the study for the past 6 months.
 
Current law allows 1 liquor store for every 48,000 people. The study says the state only has 44 stores right now, but could build another 19 and stay within the law.
 
Scott Aylett, financial analyst for Zion Public Finance told the DABC “we see an increased demand for liquor stores based not only on population growth, but also on sales and consumption of alcohol.”
 
The DABC also see the need for more stores. “Our work load is pretty high,” says DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos. “The only way we can address that is by either adding more employees and just dealing with the stores that we have, or building more stores.”
 
The state has been building more stores on an average of about 1 per year. So if more stores are to be built, where should they go?
 
The study analyzed population growth and alcohol consumption at current store locations and came up with a top priority list of where new stores should go.  
 
Riverton topped the list followed by Layton, Pleasant Grove, Sandy and Taylorsville. Aylett, of Zion Public Finance, says those are market areas, not specific cities. “So when we say that the Riverton market area is the top priority for a new liquor store, that would include the municipalities of Riverton, Herriman, portions of South Jordan, portions of West Jordan, even portions of Taylorsville and Kearns.”
 
Financially those cities could benefit greatly by a new liquor store. The report says sales tax revenues on a per square foot basis at a liquor store are similar to those generated at a Costco.
 
The DABC has long dealt with complaints of long lines and long drives to the existing stores and Director Sal Petilos understands those complaints. “We do know that people want easier access to liquor stores. I think it’s one of those things, where as the population grows, we need to be pro-active and identify areas where we need to grow.”
 
The report could prompt state liquor bosses to adopt a more aggressive expansion plan, but it would only be a plan. Final approval of spending for new liquor stores must come directly from the legislature.
 
It’s not like anyone has to worry about losing money.  In the past fiscal year total alcohol sales in Utah came close to $425 million dollars.

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