About 50,000 people are expected to flood Isla Vista this Halloween weekend and boost alcohol sales at local liquor stores.
Although Halloween has been an annual Isla Vista tradition since 1962, the holiday also attracts flocks of out-of-towners. Throughout the weekend, residents and visitors alike turn to the grocery stores in Isla Vista to supply the fundamental ingredient of their Halloween diet: alcohol.
Keg-N-Bottle manager Samer Dallo said he attributes the increase in sales over Halloween weekend to the hordes of visitors.
“We are always busy, but Halloween is the busiest,” Dallo said. “The kids from out of town make it that way.”
Moreover, Dallo said the store has an increase of 20 to 30 percent in alcohol sales during the weekend festivities. He said the store sells more groceries as well.
“The extra money we make during Halloween helps us during December, which is a really slow month for us,” Dallo said. “Most businesses make a lot of money during New Year’s. Halloween is my New Year.”
Goleta grocery stores see a spike in alcohol sales as well. Casey Brainard, manager of the Albertsons on Calle Real, said a huge increase in alcohol sales usually starts Thursday and ends Sunday. Brainard also said the revenue from alcohol sales exceeds all other sales.
“That’s the biggest alcohol weekend for us in the year,” Brainard said. “It’s a weekend that we have more alcohol sales than grocery sales. We always order a lot during this time because we usually run out of Heritage Vodka and sometimes Jägermeister.”
Store owners also noted that the presence of out-of-towners and the desperate need for alcohol can lead to problems such as theft. Brainard said Albertsons is taking precautionary measures by dramatically increasing security this weekend.
“We’re on alert more,” Brainard said. “There is our loss prevention manager Manny on [the alcohol] aisle, and you have to show your ID to actually get in that aisle.”
Grocery stores like Keg-N-Bottle have an even higher risk for theft due to their proximity to the hectic Halloween scene.
“When some kids show [up from] out of town, there’s always a problem,” Dallo said.
Another problem that results from this large rise in alcohol sales is the increase of alcohol consumption. This led to 55 students requiring hospitalization last year, twice the number of individuals that sought medical help the year before. Alcohol abuse also resulted in 220 arrests, 168 drinking in public violations and 438 citations in 2008.