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Washington State Liquor Prices Go Up After Privatizing Liquor Sales

Privatizing liquor sales in Washington State hasn't brought prices down, as many had hoped, but rather pushed the average liquor price up 10 percent in one year.

The cost of liquor in Washington went up six months ago, right after the change to privatization per Initiative-1183, reports The Daily Herald

Previously, the State of Washington owned the liquor stores and set the prices.

Back then, the average statewide price per liter of hard liquor after taxes was $21.59, but a year later in October 2011, the average price was $24.06, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Supporters of Initiative-1183, which privatized liquor sales, stated in 2011: "Yes on 1183 will create true competition in liquor and wine distribution and sales, strengthen liquor law enforcement, benefit Washington taxpayers and consumers and generate vitally needed new revenues for state and local services."

Stores larger than 10,000 square feet were allowed to sell hard liquor starting in June 2012. This meant that larger stores could buy in bulk and undercut smaller stores, which had to raise prices.

The Daily Herald reports:

The state's previous spirits sales tax and liter taxes stayed in place. The state's 51.9 percent mark-up went away but was replaced by fees of 10 percent on distributors and 17 percent on retailers. "The private sector is adding its own markup as well," said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board.


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