The global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a decrease of consumer goods making it to store shelves. The spirits industry is not immune.
While spirits consumers in Alabama may have recently noticed some stores less than fully stocked, the Alabama ABC Board wants consumers to know the state’s liquor inventory is not in danger of running dry.
“Once we realized our distributors were facing potential issues with production, we turned our full attention to our inventory,” ABC Administrator Mac Gipson said. “We run a report every morning to see which SKUs need attention. We really are dealing with a moving target.”
The Alabama ABC Board is working with suppliers to keep ABC stores, independent stores, restaurants and bars stocked as quickly as possible.
For example, frequent communications with suppliers has eased some inventory challenges.
“Our product management team noticed orders that included multiple SKUs of one popular brand continued to get pushed back,” Gipson said. “They realized it was because the supplier was out of one bottle that is not as popular as other sizes.”
Product management worked with the supplier to continue the shipments that contain the more popular bottle sizes.
“Rather than wait for that shipment to arrive with all the bottle sizes, the distributor immediately sent a full truck of inventory,” Gipson said.
In the event a retailer or restaurant is out of stock, Gipson encourages consumers to try other brands.
“ABC offers a wide variety of options and price points in all liquor categories to our retail and wholesale customers,” Gipson said. “We are seeing customers substituting their original choices with other brands.”
Gipson said supply issues are impacting many areas of the economy, especially the retail sector.
“This is partly a global supply chain issue,” Gipson said. “Some brands and distributors are having issues getting glass. Others may have challenges finding caps for the bottles. Domestically we are faced with worker shortages, regional shipping issues and increased demand from restaurants and bars reopening at relatively the same time. This has put a strain on the business.”
Each liquor category and geographic location has experienced different challenges. For example, the tequila industry faced agricultural issues during the pandemic whereas liquors produced in Europe have experienced issues with shipping channels and ports.
“Also, aged and brown liquors have increased in popularity,” Gipson said. “ABC is aware of supply chain challenges and is doing all it can to maintain inventory across the state of Alabama.”
He encourages people to download the Alabama ABC mobile app – AL-Boss – to their smartphones. The app displays a real-time account of inventory at every ABC store in the state.
Public Information Specialist
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