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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

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.

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