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Liquor sales spike during coronavirus pandemic

According to the market research firm Nielsen, alcoholic beverage sales shot up 55% during the third week in March, compared to the same time last year.

PORTLAND, Maine — While some businesses have been ordered to close due to the coronavirus, liquor stores have remained open, because they are considered essential businesses.

At Friendly Discount Beverage in Portland, business has never been busier.

"It's like an apocalypse. What else are people going to stock up on? The necessities and booze," owner Sam Patel said.

Patel said people are stocking up on craft beer and wine.

According to the market research firm Nielson, in the U.S. alcoholic beverage sales shot up 55 percent during the third week in March, compared to the same time last year.

"It doesn't surprise me. What surprises me is the fact of how often they [customers] come back," Patel said.

Patel isn't the only liquor store owner seeing an increase in sales. Greg Norton is the owner of Bier Cellar in Portland and Gorham. He said sales have gone up 20-25 percent.

"When you remove on-premise bars and the ability to go out to have drinks, the stress and anxiety people are feeling and the hoarding and stocking up mentality that you're seeing on all groceries," said Norton.

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Both Patel and Norton are urging curbside pick-up and said employees are wiping down the facilities in order to keep people healthy.

"All handles and doors," Patel said.

"Trying to make it clear to people why we are pushing curbside," Norton said.

The flip side of this coin is alcohol abuse. If you are struggling with alcohol use, you can reach out to Alcoholics Anonymous, which has resources on its website.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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