Will the Surging U.S. Alcohol Shortage Affect Your Area?

Joel Eisenberg

Empty ShelvesGareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images

Author’s Note

This article is free of opinion and bias, and is based solely on accredited media reports. No advice or recommendation is offered herein on the part of the author. Sources for this article include BestLifeOnline.com, DailyVoice.com, the U.S. Alcohol and Beverage Commission, VinePair.com, IRI, The Daily Mail, and NPR.


According to early warning signs as expressed in a July, 2021 article published in BestLifeOnline.com, entitled “If You Live in These States, Prepare for an Alcohol Shortage,” Ohio, Vermont, and North Carolina were the states initially most affected by the pandemic-induced issue.

From the article: Liquor store owners and bar owners across Ohio, Vermont, and North Carolina say it's been difficult to acclimate to the new normal, especially as people have shifted to doing most of their imbibing at home. Ohio, like many places around the country, saw a boom in drinking during the pandemic. A report from the Dayton Daily News found that state liquor agencies saw a nearly 10 percent increase in liquor sales in 2020 compared to 2019, even as sales shifted from wholesale to retail. "I took a picture of my shelves," one liquor store manager told the outlet. "It looked like locusts had gone over them. I'd never seen them that empty in my life. It was like, overnight."

The article goes on to state it is not solely the alcohol running short, but the packaging of the alcohol that has also become a casualty of a severely impacted national supply chain.

As expected based on national trends, the Best Life Online article also proved prescient. See here for DailyVoice.com article published in October of 2021, entitled “COVID-19: Nationwide Liquor Shortage Affects Stores, Bars, Restaurants.”

Excerpted from the Daily Voice piece: According to the Alcohol and Beverage Commission, some states have started rationing their liquor sales amid supply chain issues, though there is no clear timetable for when the supply will match the demand after the pandemic wreaked havoc on some businesses.

The timeline of events as expressed in the two articles above brings us to today. See here for a recent VinePair.com piece, “Should Americans Be Worried About an Alcohol Shortage? Some Experts Say, Yes.”

The Vine Pair piece states: According to IRI, a data and market analysis company, at least 11 percent of alcohol demand in the United States has not been met since mid-November 2021. The shortage has seen ripple effects affecting retailers from coast to coast.

The question now becomes: “What’s next?”

Current U.S. Alcohol Shortages

In September of 2021, DailyMail.co.uk published an article entitled “America Runs Dry! Dozens of States are Experiencing Alcohol Shortages Due to Skyrocketing Demand For Booze.” See here for that article, which also mentions additional states impacted by shortages such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and more. Further, the article discloses another reason for the increasingly empty shelves, that of a lack of truck drivers. As a result of pandemic-influenced job loss, lack of packaging, and the general alcohol supply issue itself, several states such as Pennsylvania have taken to ration their alcohol supply.

The same month as the Daily Mail report, NPR answered the question: “Why Liquor Shortages Caused By The COVID-19 Pandemic Persist In Some States.” See here. The NPR piece reminds us that supply chain issues across the board have been ongoing for the better part of a year, and will likely continue to do so for some time.

In other words, the present U.S. supply chain shortage must be contained for the alcohol problem to be fixed.


The pandemic has impacted supply issues across the board. These issues will one day become more manageable, but when that day will come is purely conjecture.

Perhaps a future update of this article will tell that tale.

In the meantime, thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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