Liquor stores take deliveries, stock up for Monday's alcohol rush
Pretoria - Preparations for the sale of alcohol are in full swing, with a rush on online orders and queues expected from early in the morning on Monday.
Yesterday across the city, bottle store owners were supervising deliveries and packing of shelves and fridges ahead of doors opening from 9am and 5pm Monday to Thursday.
The sale of alcohol was banned during stages 5 and 4 of the national lockdown and news it could be sold in level 3 for at-home consumption was widely welcomed.
Liquor traders called their employees to return to work and help prepare stores and other outlets for trade. This included deep cleaning, markings for social distancing in and outside stores, preparation of hand sanitisers and other steps to ensure maximum compliance with the strict trading regulations announced this week.
Trucks could be seen delivering orders made before lockdown with more orders due over the weekend and into next week.
The ban on the sale of alcohol over the past two months led to a spike in illegal sales and home brews, and many who enjoy a drink have been placing online orders. This led to some sites being closed yesterday as demand was expected to outstrip supply and delivery slots filled up.
While some deliveries were being made to retail liquor stores, president of the Concerned Tshwane Liquor Traders Association, Oupa Mthombeni Mthombeni, said taverns in the townships were still waiting.
Licensed taverns and restaurants may sell alcohol but only for off-site consumption. This concession is expected to help relieve the pressure on stores and reduce the distances people have to travel to get their hands on a bottle, can or box of their favourite tipple.
Mthombeni said: “Most tavern owners have not received stock and we think it is because they’re prioritising the retail guys who probably placed bulk orders.
"However, when it comes to compliance we are very ready," he said, predicting long lines of customers come Monday after 66 days of lockdown.
Tops at Spar in Lynnwood at the Grove and Wapadrand manager, Aveling DeVilliers , and the owner of Liquor City stores in Groenkloof and GlenGables, Charl van Rooy, were in agreement that their regular customers could not wait for a beer or bottle of wine right now.
Aveling said: “We are definitely ready for Monday and we’ve arranged to have security to make sure that people comply with social distancing and things move as smoothly as possible.
“We are filling up the shelves right now because people emptied most of them prior to the lockdown. However, we want them to know that we are ready for this and there is no need to worry and panic."
He said the store had shifted its staff to the Spar grocery store where the food market was booming during the lockdown, but they could now return.
Van Rooy said: “As a business we took revenue losses in the region of millions, and our workers had to stay at home. I’m glad we are ready to trade again, and we’ve ensured that we will protect our customers while serving them the beer that they can’t wait to put their hands on.”
Distell chief executive officer Richard Rushton welcomed the move by government to allow the alcohol industry to return to responsible trading.
“The alcohol industry currently contributes to nearly a million jobs along the value chain and supports nearly 800 small and medium enterprises. We are working with the government and providing input on the draft proposals.
South African Breweries will issue its communication on action and plans to deal with the urgent and wide demand expected as a result of the new regulations.