Alcohol could be bought and sold in South Africa for the first time in two months on Monday and hundreds of South Africans stood in long queues to quench their thirst.
Alcohol can again be bought and sold at level 3 of the lockdown regulations and liquor store owners say their sales have skyrocketed.
Photos of long lines outside liquor stores were circulated on social media on Monday.
Brian Leroni, chief executive of corporate affairs at South African retail giant Massmart Holdings, says customers flocked to liquor stores on Monday to refill their liquor cabinets.
Leroni says the retail group, which owns Macro, among others, expected demand to be high and has been working with key suppliers over the past four weeks to ensure that enough beverage supplies are purchased.
“The high demand for liquor at Macro stores nationwide can be compared to the demand on a Black Friday in these stores,” says Leroni.
This retail giant expects liquor sales to remain high until Wednesday, where the stores will then return to a normal trading pattern.
Leroni believes the restriction on liquor sales from Fridays to Sundays can greatly contribute to customer rush during the week.
Leroni says more security personnel have also been hired at liquor stores to regulate rows of customers. She says shelves were also quickly packed again as soon as it started to run out to avoid any unnecessary panic purchases among customers.
A liquor store in Midstream near Pretoria sold about R600 000 worth of liquor on Monday. That’s three times the liquor sale on Saturday at this liquor store, said one employee.
The Gauteng Liquor Forum (GLF) welcomed the government’s decision to allow liquor sales again from level 3 of seclusion.
GLF president Fanny Mokoena says the liquor stores on Monday conducted their sales responsibly and in accordance with the forum’s code of conduct.
Mokoena says the illegal trade in alcohol that has increased at the time of seclusion is another concern. “If this illegal trade continues, many liquor stores will have to close their doors later,” he says.
According to the forum, some of the small businesses could not immediately start trading again due to a lack of funds needed to prepare the stores and purchase sufficient stock. Mokoena says they are calling on alcohol manufacturers to provide support to these businesses to help the industry overcome the current financial crisis.