ST. PAUL — It was another banner sales year for Minnesota municipal liquor stores in 2018, the first full year they were open on Sundays.

The stores reported a 23rd consecutive year of record sales, totaling $360.2 million, which was an $11.3 million increase over 2017, according to a report released Wednesday, Dec. 11, by the State Auditor’s Office.

Although just 19 of the 190 Minnesota cities that own and operate 223 liquor stores are located in the Twin Cities metro area, they represent 35 percent of the sales and 38 percent of the net profit.

“The biggest difference between metro and rural sales numbers are the higher sales volume and the accompanying efficiencies,” State Auditor Julie Blaha said at a news conference at St. Anthony Village Wine and Spirits, a municipal liquor store. “This is really a lot about volume and ways you can save money with purchasing power, staffing and fixed asset costs with larger operations.”

Lakeville again was tops in sales, which totaled $15.2 million last year. The growing south-metro suburb of about 64,000 residents has run the state’s largest municipal liquor operation every year since 2002 and has been either first or second annually since then in net profit.

Rounding out the top five for sales were Edina ($13.4 million), Richfield ($11.5 million), Eden Prairie ($10.8 million) and Apple Valley ($9.4 million).

Statewide, the net profit of all municipal liquor stores totaled $29 million, representing an increase of $5.9 million over 2017. Generally speaking, profitable municipal liquor operations provide another revenue stream for things such as building maintenance, capital equipment and bond payments.

Of the 38 cities that saw a net loss last year, all but one — Robbinsdale — are in outstate Minnesota.

Lakeville also led the way in net profit, pulling in $2.6 million at its three stores. Edina came in a distant second at $1.4 million, followed by Elk River with $1 million.

But Lakeville’s 2018 numbers are skewed, City Administrator Justin Miller noted, because the overall revenue total included $2.3 million the city brought in from the sale of its Kenrick Avenue store.

“We still had a record year in sales, but the revenue from that property sale inflated our revenue for the year,” Miller said. The city now leases the space for the store, he added.

Meanwhile, costs were flat across the state. Operating expenses totaled $78.7 million, an increase of about $463,000, or 0.6 percent, over the amount reported in 2017.

Sunday liquor sales began July 2, 2017, but the report did not specify how staying open an extra day each week affected both sales and operating expenses.

But not all of last year’s numbers statewide were rosy. Three cities shut down operations, continuing a decade-long trend, according to the report.

In addition, last year 36 cities — all outstate — held public hearings on the future of liquor store operations. State law requires cities to hold a public hearing if there is a net loss in at least two of the past three years.

“The stores that are remaining are figuring it out,” Blaha said. “So if a store is able to meet the pressures and serve whatever purpose that the community really needs it for, they are staying in business. If they aren’t, people are making different choices.”