How Alcohol Sales Impact Counties

A proposal to expand alcohol sales to all Arkansas counties is one step closer to making the November ballot. The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment received 6,000 more signatures than needed. Those signatures are now being verified.

The University of Arkansas, recently conducted a study to find out what kind of economic impact alcohol sales have had on previously dry counties. It's estimated every Arkansan over 21-years-old, spends 345 dollars on beer, wine and liquor each year according to a new study out of the University of Arkansas.

"We expect them to continue spending money on alcohol, the question is will they be able to do it closer, or do they have to go further away from home?" said Kathy Deck employee at the University of Arkansas.

A potential future ballot issue will answer that question. Despite half of Arkansas counties being dry, alcohol sales bring big business and tax revenue to the natural state. In 2013, it generated more than 700 million dollars in sales according to the study. So with every purchase, between 10.5, and 12.5 percent of the sales, go to the state.

"When we look at legalizing retail alcohol sales statewide, It's not as if the 700 million dollars is going to double," said Deck. "Obviously there would be shifting of the sales between, from a county that is now currently wet to a county that is now currently dry."

like when Benton County voted to go wet, it took business from Washington County and Southern Missouri.

Erik Danielson owner of Walton Wine and Spirits says, "Most of the people here in Benton County were used to shopping, or at least in this portion, in Missouri so it's been nice to get them to come shop here and bring those tax revenues back into Arkansas."

According to the study, each currently wet county has an economic impact of up to 12 million dollars a year.

"New economic activity means new jobs, new chances to sell products in a place where you haven't been able to sell them before," said Deck.

Danielson said there could be some unexpected effects if the whole state went wet,

"It will completely change the landscape of liquor stores. Arkansas has a lot of county line stores, it would be really, really bad for those county line stores," said Danielson.

Danielson said alcohol laws are always evolving and ultimately convenience plays a factor in what consumers purchase.

"It's not surprising to me that they're possibly changing, you know, I think they'll continue to change for forever, that's just the nature of the business," he said.

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