Lifting of booze ban sees sales rival that of 'Black Friday' and 'New Year’s Eve'

Level 3 regulations ban the sale of alcohol from Friday to Sunday.
Level 3 regulations ban the sale of alcohol from Friday to Sunday.
Image: 123RF/Stefano Carnevali

Monday’s lifting of the lockdown booze ban was like heaven on earth for retailers and bottle store traders with tipplers pushing sales to “Black Friday” and “New Year’s Eve” levels.

While none was prepared to give actual figures yet, spirits, beers and good old plonk were the order of the day, with retailers reporting very little decline in sales throughout the week.

Level 3 regulations ban the sale of alcohol from Friday to Sunday.

Retailers are expecting a surge again on Monday, said Liquor Traders Association spokesperson Sean Robinson, “especially as the traditional seven sales days have been squashed into four”.

“Monday’s buys were definitely as big as New Year’s Eve sales.”

He said that with month-end coinciding with the lifting of the ban, all their members had reported big sales.

“Where we do see a big emerging trend is with online buying. Some members reported that the surge was so great that they couldn’t handle order levels, with them only able to fulfil delivery orders eight days after they were placed or having to disconnect their online systems all together.”

He said another trend change was with people calling ahead, ready for collection when they arrived.

Robinson, who is also co-managing director of Ultra Liquors, said spirits tended to top people’s wish lists, “but only marginally”.

He said that before the lockdown people had stocked up on their favourite alcohol.

“What they have done now is merely raise the volume of what they usually drink and increase their pantry load a bit.”

Declining to reveal the value of the trade they had done, he said they had restricted what people could buy from store to store, “which was respected”.

“What I can say is that the lifting of the ban has brought significant relief too many traders.”

Dry Dock Liquor online store manager Taryn Pienaar said they had received more than 600 online orders at an average of R2,000 per order.

Shoprite and Checkers said their LiquorShops were extremely busy on Monday, with trade levels resembling those of “Black Friday and New Year's Eve”.

“Although only trading for four days, overall volume for the first week of trade during lockdown level 3 resembled the same volumes normally experienced during a 7-day trading week over month-end.

“Both online and in-store alcohol sales exceeded expectations.”

The retailer said the tipple most in demand was wine and beer, followed by spirits.

“In terms of volume, customers increased their basket size, opting to visit liquor stores less frequently, but buying more when they do go to the store.

“From Monday, customers will be able to order their liquor online through Checkers Sixty60 and the Mr D Food app.”

Pick n Pay said in terms of their sales, spirits topped the lists.

“Many customers chose to shop online and placed pre-orders over the weekend to have their beverages delivered straight to their front door.”

Spar said sales across all its 800 Tops bottle stores exceeded expectations.

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