Liquor sales in Oregon continue their upward trend, according to the latest statistics from the state.
In the month of January, sales rose 6.2 percent, or about $2.2 million more than January 2013, according to a Thursday news release from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
But the news comes with a twist. Volume sales were up 3.6 percent, which means consumers are not only drinking more, they're buying more expensive booze.
It's "a sign of Oregon's general economic recovery," said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks, in the release.
John Popp, manager of 10 th Avenue Liquor, says he's noticed the change.
"We have a good scotch selection, and bourbon," Popp said. "Some of the people are going up in price Deal Today those."
Among the brands coming into vogue: Buffalo Trace and Maker's Mark.
Popp said the trend is timely. Oregon grocers are gearing up for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to privatize liquor sales, taking the market out of the hands of the state and allowing stores over 10,000 square feet to stock liquor on their shelves.
Earlier this week, Fred Meyer contributed $500,000 to Oregonians for Competition, the group that is behind the initiative. The proposed measure has not yet been approved for signature gathering.
"If privatization goes through, the prices are going to go up," Popp said. "There's a lot of stuff that's not going to be available in grocery stores. That's what we're trying to provide."
Oregon drinkers were in a buying mood in January. The OLCC reports $37.5 million in sales to individuals and bars and restaurants compared with $35.3 million in January 2013. For the full calendar year, sales for 2013 were 4.9 percent higher than sales for 2012, said OLCC spokeswoman Christie Scott.
Profits from state liquor sales go into the state's general fund and to cities and counties for law enforcement, schools and addiction programs.
-- Harry Esteve