A Rundown of States’ Reopening Efforts

Dear Client: 

Earlier this month, President Trump outlined a plan to reopen the country in phases, with no official start dates, and directives to be considered on a local basis, by local authorities [see WSD 04-17-2020]. 

Georgia kicked off reopening efforts last week—to a fair amount of criticism— as the first state to allow dine-in business as of yesterday. Restaurants, movie theaters, and private social clubs are allowed to reopen with strict sanitation and social distancing rules still in place, while bars and nightclubs remain closed.

Shortly after, other states announced their own reopening plans. CNN put together a handy guide on where each state currently stands on reopening efforts. 

Restaurants seem to be at the top of the list for a number of states, though with some social distancing and other safety protocols still in place. More specifically, by state: 

  • Restaurants are allowed to reopen in most parts of Alaska at 25% capacity.
  • Yesterday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that 77 of the state’s 99 counties can reopen restaurants, fitness centers, retail stores and enclosed malls at 50% capacity starting May 1. 
  • In Montana, restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries can begin providing some on-site services starting May 4. 
  • Nebraska restaurants can reopen May 4 at 50% capacity, while bars will remain closed until May 31. 
  • Oklahoma restaurants, dining rooms, movie theaters, sporting venues and gyms will reopen May 1 so long as they maintain social distancing and sanitation protocols. 
  • In Tennessee, restaurants were allowed to open yesterday at 50% capacity. 
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced yesterday that restaurants, retail stores, movie theaters and malls can reopen this Friday at 25% capacity. 

You’ll recall, states began issuing stay-at-home orders mid-March in order to ‘flatten the curve’ of the spread of COVID-19. Many of those orders are set to expire April 30, some of which have already been extended to about mid-May.  


Total off-premise bev alc sales were up almost 16% for the week ended April 18 in all Nielsen-measured off-premise channels. 

Easter timing impacted the latest weekly data set from Nielsen. The firm said it expected sales for the week ended April 18 to dip compared to the same period last year which was the week leading up to Easter.  

Indeed, sales did drop slightly from the previous week ended April 11, down just 0.6%, led by declines in wine (down 3.3% compared to the prior week), largely due to the Easter timing shift, according to Nielsen’s Danny Brager.

Wine off-premise sales were up 14.1% for the week ended April 18, spirits sales grew 27.4% and beer/FMB/cider was up 12.3%. 

WINE STILL LION’S SHARE OF E-COMMERCE. COVID to date (week ended March 7 through April 18), alcohol e-commerce sales have more than doubled compared to a year ago, up 234%. All categories have benefitted, but spirits have grown the fastest in the channel, according to Nielsen. 

Wine is still the largest category, accounting for almost 70% of total online alcohol sales. 

“The dollar value of each order has increased significantly, commensurate with an increase in the number of units per order,” says Danny. 

CONSUMER INSIGHT. Only 17% of more than 10,000 bev alc consumers surveyed said they stocked up more on alcohol in the past month compared to their typical purchasing behavior, while 41% said they did not stock up at all. The survey was fielded March 27 – April 17. 

But, Danny notes that “actual purchase behavior indicates that dollar spend for that group increased by 25% for the 4 weeks ending April 4, 2020 compared to last year.” 

Almost 70% of those surveyed said they are purchasing brands they know and trust. Just 2% said they were purchasing more premium or expensive alcohol brands than they would typically buy.

The survey also took a look at how frequent on-premise drinkers (several times a month or more) are purchasing off-premise. 

28% of frequent on-premise drinkers said they purchased more alcohol in the past month at a physical store, compared to 15% of average drinkers. 

Frequent on-premise drinkers are also buying more through online methods, as they are 60% more likely to have purchased more alcohol through delivery or pick up from a store, 80% more likely to purchase online from bar or restaurant, and 55% more likely to have increased their online purchases from a brewery, winery or wine club, or distillery, per survey. 

“Understanding how the frequent on-premise drinker is purchasing alcohol in off-premise channels now will be increasingly more important, particularly as suppliers, restaurants, and breweries lean on creative ways to engage with this group,” says Danny. 


Yesterday, we published an interview with Spirit Hub ceo and founder Michael Weiss and how the company delivers spirits in a three-tier compliant way [see WSD 04-27-2020]. Today, the company detailed further expansion plans. 

Spirit Hub plans to expand in up to five new markets in 2020; Florida, Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri and Indiana, with continued user penetration in Illinois, per a release. They also plan to expand distribution channels with national grocery chains by 2021 as well as take it international at the beginning of next year. 

“As craft spirits continue to rise in popularity, the number of independent distillers is growing to meet consumer demand and Spirit Hub is driving a big chunk of that growth for our partners,” says ceo Michael Weiss. “Spirit Hub’s business model is suited to accommodate the on-demand nature of today’s consumer and current delivery-centric economy, which is why this is the perfect time for us to expand our services to new markets and why Spirit Hub has seen solid growth month-after-month since it launched.”


RNDC/ YOUNG’S EXPANDS PARTNERSHIP WITH DISARONNO INTERNATIONAL. Republic National Distributing Co. and Young’s Market announced they have inked a new distribution agreement with Disaronno International in AK, CA, HI, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA and WY, effective May 1. RNDC/Young’s will handle the brand in 22 states. “2020 will see the Disaronno brand innovate including Disaronno Velvet, The Disaronno Sour RTD while at the same time revitalizing iconic brands such as Florio Marsala, Tia Maria, and Corvo wines,” says Disaronno International evp/gm Ray Stoughton, adding, “It is critical at this time of growth to consolidate our route to market and maximize our potential.”

RABBIT HOLE LAUNCHES BESPOKE GIN. Kentucky-based Rabbit Hole Distillery has introduced Bespoke Gin, a London Dry gin aged in the company’s Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey barrels, per Beverage Dynamics. The gin is rolling out nationally this month with a suggested retail price of $50 a 750 ml. You may recall, Rabbit Hole is a part of Pernod Ricard’s New Brand Ventures portfolio. 

Until tomorrow,

“After a storm comes a calm.” – Matthew Henry

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