Beer, Wine Sales Decline Post-Pandemic

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Beer tax collections in N.C. were down 1.85% during calendar year 2022, but that doesn’t t ell the full story.   Beer tax collections are a basic tool to help determine sales by volume, and we track those monthly numbers on our web site.

During the two peak years of the pandemic (2020 and 2021), beer tax dollars rose—2.8% in 2020 and 1.2% in 2021.  While consumer traffic at restaurants, bars and taprooms slowed significantly, beer sales at grocery and convenience stores  increased somewhat dramatically.  Quite simply, people were buying beer by the case, not by the glass.

2019 was the last “normal” year, pre-pandemic.  N.C. beer tax collections in 2019 totaled $124.2 million while tax collections for 2022 were at $126.9 million.  So, 2022 was 2.2% better for beer tax collections than in 2019.

The N.C. Department of Revenue imposes an excise tax on beer, based on volume.  The N.C. excise tax on beer is 62 cents per gallon (6th highest in the U.S.).  The tax works out to about 5.8 cents per 12-ounce bottle of beer.

N.C. Wine Tax $ Down 3.34%;  Still Better Than 2019

N.C. tax dollars for unfortified wine were down 3.34% in 2022 while generating $32.6 million for the State’s General Fund.  The 2022 decline follows two strong years for wine tax collections—7.3% in 2021 and 4.1% in 2020.  Those two years—2020 and 2021— fell within the pandemic.  As was the case with beer, on-premise wine sales at restaurants dropped significantly during those two years.  However, that offset by a dramatic rise in grocery and wine store sales. 

So, again, let’s put 2022 in perspective.   2019 was the last “normal” year prior to the pandemic.  N.C. tax collections for wine totaled $30.2 million in 2019.   If one compares 2022 to 2019, wine tax collections in 2022 increased by 7.84%.

The N.C. Department of Revenue imposes an excise tax on wine, based upon volume.  The N.C. excise tax (22nd highest in the U.S.) is $1.00 per gallon, or 3.78 liters.   A liter is equal to 33.87 ounces.   A typical bottle of wine is 750 milliliters or 25.36 ounces.  A gallon of wine is slightly more than 5 bottles of wine so the N.C. excise tax equates to about 20 cents per bottle.

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