The sale of liquor in the state is big business — really big business.
The New Hampshire Liquor Commission announced yesterday it had a record year for sales in fiscal year 2013 — $603.5 million. That’s an increase of nearly 7 percent — $38.9 million — over the previous year.
That translates into $145.6 million in revenue, no small amount for a state with a recently approved budget of $10.7 billion.
The sales spike is attributed to revamping existing stores, including expanding some of the busiest ones.
The announcements came just a few days after N.H. State Police announced they had screened hundreds of drivers and arrested dozens at two sobriety checkpoints over the weekend in Salem and Seabrook.
Ironically, some of the funding for those checkpoints comes from the state’s liquor sales.
While the state has come to depend on liquor sales to help fund everything from education to social services, officials also try to reduce the number of alcohol-related highway deaths and societal problems that result from alcohol consumption.
Representatives for Gov. Maggie Hassan, the Liquor Commission and the Department of Transportation said yesterday the boost in liquor sales is in conjunction with an increase in efforts to prevent drunken driving.
“Public safety remains the governor’s top priority,” said Marc Goldberg, Hassan’s spokesman. “We put more troopers on the road to help address issues like these.”
The recently approved state budget includes $724,384 to hire 10 more state troopers.
Goldberg said the governor’s office is committed to keeping state highways safe. Hassan praised the Liquor Commission for the increased sales.
“Thanks to the dedicated work of the people of the Liquor Commission, this was another fantastic year for New Hampshire’s liquor stores, bringing an important boost for the state,” Hassan said in a statement. “With new stores and creative sales and marketing initiatives on the horizon, I look forward to continued success from NHLC.”