Numbers show 46% drop in alcohol sales at Bexar County bars, restaurants in 2020

Pandemic led to nearly $18 million drop in alcohol sales compared to last year

A half-full beer glass remains on a table at the Dispensary pub in Liverpool, England, Monday Oct 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Super) (Jon Super, Jon Super)

Aided by the NBA regular season and big concerts scheduled in San Antonio, Bexar County bars and restaurants posted more than $67 million in alcohol sales in March 2019, according to the comptroller’s office.

During the same month this year, as the coronavirus pandemic first began to grip the economy, sales dropped to just $30 million. By April, the numbers bottomed out at $2.9 million.

The alcohol sales figures provided by the comptroller’s office show a 46% drop between January and October of 2020 compared to 2019, showing the pandemic’s impact on local restaurants, bars, venues, hotels and resorts. The sales are also an important source of revenue to the state, which has reported similar losses in other industries, like oil and gas.

In March, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott waived regulations to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages with to-go and delivery orders. After being shut down in the summer, bars were allowed to reopen with the county judge’s approval if certain stipulations were met with the spread of COVID-19.

The numbers suggest that more people have been buying alcohol from grocery and liquor stores amid the pandemic, according to Forbes.

While sales are still significantly lower than they were last year, the numbers have shown a steady increase since July.

From January until October of 2019, alcohol sales totaled $565,451,795. Over that same period in 2020, the numbers show sales at $303,852,813.

The state of Texas has seen “historic declines” in revenue, according to Comptroller Glenn Hegar. Revenue seen from taxes on sales related to alcohol, hotel stays and oil and gas are down roughly 40% compared to last year, Hegar said.

Over the summer, Hegar projected a $4.6 billion deficit in the state’s budget. On Monday, Hegar said the deficit appears to be improving due to more Texans spending money, boosting sales tax revenue.

State lawmakers will have to figure out how to adjust to the budget shortfall when the legislative session convenes next year.