Utah Shows Some Spirit

A new initiative may loosen restrictions on alcohol and spirits sales in Utah grocery and convenience stores.

August 03, 2023

A citizen ballot initiative has been filed to loosen restrictions on alcohol sales in grocery and convenience stores in Utah, a state which currently has strict laws around the sale and consumption of alcohol.

The initiative has already overcome obstacles with the Utah Lt. Governor’s office, and the sponsors are planning public hearings and beginning the process to collect over 134,000 signatures for the proposal, which are required by law.

If approved, the initiative would reduce the markup on alcohol to 30% from the current rate of 88% from the state-run wholesalers. The Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC) is the state agency that controls liquor sales and licensing. The DABC operates 50 liquor stores, which are the only places customers can buy vodka, whiskey, rum and beer greater than 5% ABV, and approves private individuals to run “package agencies”, like hotels and sports venues, which can sell those types of spirits.

According to Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City, “The citizen ballot initiative would force state-run liquor stores to be sold to private owners, making Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services a wholesaler only. It also modifies the quota to add more ‘package agencies,’ which are privately-run liquor stores that contract with the state.”

Alcohol sales in c-stores have increased 22% since 2019 with progressive adult beverages (PABs) reaching $2.1 billion in sales in 2019. Read more about the future of beer and PABs in the July issue of NACS Magazine.