With the Illinois First tax increase on wine and spirits almost one year old, the Wine and Spirit Distributors of Illinois (WSDI) reported today that consumer sales on wine and spirits have remained constant, and in some cases increased in Illinois.According to the trade association, for the nine month period beginning July 1, 1999, when Illinois First tax increase went into effect, through April 1, 2000, 31,528,867 gallons of wine and spirits were purchased. That is up from 31,225,081 gallons over the same nine month period from July 1, 1998 to April 1, 1999.Based on the first quarter results and preliminary reports for April and May, WSDI is predicting the positive buying trend will continue into the summer months when demand generally increases.”Despite the higher tax, the industry remains strong because sales remain strong,” said WSDI Executive Director Paul Jenkins.In addition to the tax increase, Illinois consumers also felt the effect of several supplier and wholesaler increases as well, which Jenkins compares to oil.”It’s like gas. When suppliers charge more for inventory, distributors pay more, retailers pay more and ultimately, the consumer pays more. Despite these increases, the market remains strong,” Jenkins said. “Our employees are working hard, and we continue to collect taxes under the three-tier system.”WSDI is an Illinois trade association representing 30 Illinois wholesale wine and spirits distributors and more than 3,700 employees.