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Bottoms up! New Hanover booze sales fifth highest in state

READ MORE: Bottoms up! New Hanover booze sales fifth highest in state

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Sales of some things are down in this economy. Alcohol is not one of them.

A new report from the NC Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission reveals a rise in alcohol sales across the state.

Liquor, beer and wine. It's all a cash cow for the state.

From July 2010 until June 2011, North Carolina raked in more than $746 million in alcohol sales. That's a nearly three-percent increase over the previous year.

Helping add to that increase: New Hanover County. The smallest county in the state brought in $31,566,000.

"It's not surprising," Tim Smith said while sitting a Wilmington bar Tuesday afternoon. "With the amount of DUI-cycles you see running around on the roads and there's a couple colleges in town, there's a lot of college kids going out."

Out of 100 counties, New Hanover falls fifth in alcohol sales behind Mecklenberg, Wake, Guilford and Forsyth.

"The first reaction is wow, but when you really think about it, it's a transit military town with Jacksonville not too far away and then you have the university," bar patron Brandon Johnson said. "This is a place known for tourism and nightlife, so when you think about it the numbers aren't surprising compared to other places."

New Hanover County ABC Board CEO Dan Sykes agrees.

"We have a lot of good restaurants. People come from all around really to visit downtown. They like the beaches, so it's a big drawing card," Sykes said.

The report also shows sales in New Hanover County went up 3.6 percent. These numbers encompass everything from sales at ABC stores, bars, restaurants and convenience stores.

"It's about 30 percent for bars, restaurants, hotels and, of course, the other 70 percent is from ABC stores," Sykes said.

And so far this year, sales are forecast to shoot up even more when the numbers are tallied again next summer.

The report also showed that ten North Carolina establishments either permanently or temporarily lost their ABC permits last year. Two of those included bars in Wilmington: The Rhino Club and Club 609.

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