I get a lot of questions about buying alcohol in Florida. Many readers reach out asking about the impact Covid-19 had on liquor sales too. This article answers many of the questions that consumers have about alcohol sales and the laws associated with the buying and selling of alcohol. Additionally, we address the impact that Covid-19 had on the industry at the state level, covering on-premise and off-premise consumption.
The Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly changed many things and affected public safety in a way we’ve never experienced. This led to significant changes in many states, and Florida, the state with the fourth-highest Covid-19 cases, saw substantial changes during throughout. Keep reading to find out about the changes in alcohol sales in Florida, and how on-premise sales dropped and off-premise sales soared.
How The Pandemic Affected Alcohol Sales in Florida?
The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns significantly influenced alcohol sales in all US states, including Texas, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, and Florida. These US states had the largest on-premise alcohol sales pre-pandemic, but that changed quickly when lockdowns took place.
Based on a publication by NIH, peak months of the Covid-19 pandemic raised the off-premise alcohol sales by as much as 35.7%, while the on-premise sales came to a grinding halt. Spirits were the first type of product to jump up in sales and by September of 2020, wine and beer had seen the same sales trends.
Alcohol Sale Policies Put in Place During the Pandemic?
June 2020 brought a peak in Covid-19 cases in Florida, and at that time, on-premise alcohol sales and consumption in bars were suspended. Such policies targeted the vendors which depended on alcohol sales for more than half their gross, like bars and taverns.
Still, they were permitted to sell alcoholic drinks in sealed containers for off-premise drinking, while the restaurants were still allowed on-premise alcohol consumption. The policy was ineffective, suspended by the first week of July 2020, and was amended to allow all licensed vendors to sell food to alcohol.
Since the pandemic has widely dialed down, we are now in the new normal, which means all restaurants, bars, and nightclubs work at full capacity with proper protocols in place.
Florida Alcohol Sales, Hours, and Taxes
One of the things that changed in Florida was the alcohol sales hours. Generally speaking, it is forbidden to sell alcohol from 12 AM to 7 AM. However, this varies from one municipality to the next; for example, Miami-Dade county has a 24/7 alcohol sale permit.
You can purchase beer and wine from various places in Florida, like licensed retail stores, supermarkets, and even convenience gas stations. On the other hand, you can only purchase spirits in liquor stores.
The taxes on alcohol in Florida are also worth mentioning, as there is a general sales tax of 6%, and the various alcoholic drinks have different tax rates. Spirits have about $9.53 added tax for ABV of 55.78%; beer gets $0.48% added tax, and wine has between $2.25, $3.00, and $3.50 for the different varieties.
Florida has a limit to the size of beer cans that can be sold: beer can be sold in a 32-ounce container or smaller and a 128-ounce container or larger, but not in the range in-between. You can’t purchase 40-ounce bottles or 64-ounce growlers. Still, you can purchase several legal-sized containers (like two 32-ounce cans).
The state of Florida has tried to implement as well as make the drinks-to-go policy something permanent. Many consumers in the state of Florida have gotten used to ordering drinks with their takeout meals, so keeping the same policy post-Covid-19 is best for consumers, retailers, distributors, and wholesalers. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the alcohol-to-go bill into law on May 13, 2021, and solidifying the ability to order a drink with your takeout meal.
One stipulation is that the container must be in a locked/sealed compartment in the trunk of your car, or away from direct reach of any passenger. Also, none of these alcoholic beverages can be consumed within the vehicle.
Florida Alcohol FAQs
Here’s a list of some of the most commonly asked questions related to buying and consuming alcohol in the state of Florida.
Can you buy and sell alcohol on Sunday in Florida?
Yes, you can buy alcohol on Sunday in Florida so long as it’s not a dry county.
Between what hours can you buy alcohol in Florida?
The state of FL statutes states that alcohol can be sold between 7:00 AM and 12:00 AM daily unless the county law states otherwise.
Can you buy beer and wine at Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, and Target in Florida?
Yes. You can buy beer and wine in Walmart, CVS, Target, and Walgreens in FL.
Do they sell beer, wine, and liquor in grocery stores in FL?
Yes, they sell beer and wine in grocery stores. You will find spirits sold in package stores in Florida.
Do they sell liquor, wine, or beer in gas stations in Florida?
Yes, they sell wine and beer at gas stations in Florida, but predominantly beer.
Can you buy beer, wine, and spirits in gas stations in Florida?
You can buy beer and wine in gas stations in Florida, but you cannot buy spirits.
Can you buy 40oz beers in Florida?
No, it’s illegal to sell this specific container amount in FL so 40oz Old English 800 is out of the question.
Sources: If you’re looking for a list of statues, please visit the official Statues and Constitution page.