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Online alcohol sales in Ontario rose over the holidays: LCBO

An LCBO store is pictured in Toronto April 20, 2010. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is a provincial Crown corporation in Ontario, Canada established in 1927 to sell liquor, wine, and beer through a chain of retail stores. The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon

More Ontario drinkers turned to the Internet to buy wine, beer and spirits over the holidays.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario says its online alcohol sales totalled nearly $2 million between Nov. 6 and Dec. 31, up from $1.7 million over the previous three months.

The LCBO says the average number of daily purchases rose to 147 from 80 in those same time periods — an increase of about 84 per cent — and the average amount spent to $227 from $207.

The government-owned agency launched its online store in late July, allowing people to people buy from nearly 5,000 products and have them delivered to their home or a local liquor store.

Spokeswoman Christine Bujold says the types of alcohol that people purchased online shifted over the holidays, with beer sales dropping and a boost in red wine and spirits.

Bujold says other drinks typically associated with the holiday season, such as Baileys Irish Cream, also grew more popular.

The agency had anticipated a spike in online sales over the holiday season, she said, adding that ordering from the website is “an opportunity for people to save time.”

“People are buying beverage alcohol for their own Christmas celebrations or holiday celebrations, they’re purchasing for gift-giving,” she said.

Bujold said the LCBO website will continue to evolve and grow.

“We have plans to expand the number of products that are available in the coming months,” she said.

In July, the LCBO said its online portal already listed more products than are carried in any of its stores. The agency said at the time that LCBO.com could eventually list up to 16,000 products for sale.

There is a $50 minimum for any purchases through LCBO.com and purchases can be delivered to a neighbourhood LCBO store for free, or to a customer’s home through Canada Post for a $12 fee plus tax.

Postal workers have to ask for identification or return the liquor to the postal depot for customer pickup.