Two days after Pennsylvania re-opened its state-owned liquor stores online, it’s already struggling to keep up with the “overwhelming demand.”
As a result, Fine Wine & Good Spirits – which sells all of the state’s liquor – is now regulating when people can order their liquor.
“Due to overwhelming demand, the online store is not available at this time,” the Fine Wine & Good Spirits website reads. “Please try again tomorrow or in the coming days. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said in a statement that access to the website will be randomized “to avoid overwhelming the site with high traffic, prevent order abuse and prolong access throughout the day, so that order availability isn’t exhausted in seconds or minutes each day.”
All Pennsylvania state liquor stores and licensee service centers closed on March 17 to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The liquor control board handles all beverage alcohol distribution in Pennsylvania, operating nearly 600 wine and spirits stores statewide.
There are at least 6,063 reported cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania, with 79 reported deaths, according to CNN’s latest tally of US cases.
On March 17, sales were up 513.6% over the same day in 2019, Elizabeth Brassell, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s communications director, told CNN. Sales in March, through March 17, were up 57.9% over the same period the prior year.
State residents can still buy beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores, and from restaurants, bars and taverns to-go, according to Brassell.
Those who are lucky enough to gain access to order online can only buy up to six bottles per transaction from a limited inventory of around 1,000 wines and spirits, according to a statement from The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
The orders can only be shipped to a home or non-store addresses, and only one order per address will be fulfilled per day.
“We believe that re-opening FineWineAndGoodSpirits.com in a controlled manner will allow us to provide access to consumers while also protecting our employees and consumers from unnecessary risk,” Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Tim Holden said in a statement.
The board said it is not considering reopening brick and mortar stores right now, but will monitor the situation and consult with health officials moving forward.