Survey: Customers offer high marks for state-run liquor stores
February 9, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 2 p.m. Feb. 9, 2011
Customers offered a thumbs-up for state-run liquor stores, but suggested liquor store gift cards and online ordering as possible additions to the system.
The information comes from a Washington State Liquor Control Board survey commissioned after voters rejected ballot measures last fall to privatize the state-run liquor system.
Customers offered high marks for customer service, liquor store employee courtesy, product selection and store locations. The state released the survey results Tuesday.
“We are pleased that our performance ranked high with customers,” board Chairwoman Sharon Foster said in a statement. “The results help validate the board’s work to modernize stores, improve the customer shopping experience and increase convenience with simple changes like opening stores on Sundays and holidays.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire directed the liquor board to sponsor a survey to better understand customers’ attitudes about additional stores, updated store models, hours and more after a pair of liquor privatization initiatives — including Costco-backed Initiative 1100 — failed on the November ballot.
Seattle pollster Stuart Elway conducted a telephone survey of 1,210 adult citizens — 599 liquor store customers and 611 noncustomers in December 2010. The state spent $31,000 to complete the survey.
“Overall, I am very pleased that the survey results showed that our store employees are doing an excellent job,” Gregoire said in a statement. “Most customers give high marks to our stores and their employees. The results also show the majority of store customers support new ideas for added convenience, such as standard hours of operation and specialty stores in urban markets.”
The survey showed 89 percent of respondents graded store employees with A or B for courtesy, 81 percent graded product selection with A or B, 87 percent graded convenience of a store’s location with A or B, and two-thirds of respondents said the state has the “right number” of liquor stores.
Gregoire also directed the liquor board to pursue ideas to improve customer convenience and generate $4.5 million in additional revenue through 2013.
The ideas include adding up to 15 stores — including eight standard stores, up to five pilot projects inside grocery stores and specialty stores in urban markets — creating liquor store gift cards, adding online ordering and offering liquor-related products, such as ice and barware, at state-run stores.