Liquor traders ask Ramaphosa to lift restrictions on trading days and hours

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PHOTO: Tracy Lee Stark

The National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) and Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) have requested government to remove disaster management restrictions, allow the sale of liquor for off-site consumption.

According to the traders, allowing traders to sell every day without cut-off time give customers enough time to buy their alcohol and also encourage at-home consumption.

The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for off-site consumption is permitted from 9am to 5pm, from Mondays to Fridays, excluding public holidays.

The traders have argued that the restriction of trading days and hours of off-site consumption forces customers to gather on the five days that are allowed. Lifting the restriction of trading days and hours will give customers a chance to purchase their alcohol during the rest of the week, limiting surges in demand and reducing the average daily number of customers going to bottle stores.

Drinking at home will achieve social distancing, avoid large gatherings and driving under the influence.

“Most customers work during the day on weekdays, and pre-lockdown would make their purchases on the way home from work (between 5pm and 6pm) or on the weekend. By imposing a cut-off time of 5pm on weekdays and not allowing trade on the weekend, customers are forced to take time off from work to make purchases during their workday, which is disruptive for our economy.

“As the busiest period for our members pre-lockdown was between 5pm and 6pm on weekdays and on the weekends, the current restrictions have a devastating financial impact on our members’ businesses [resulting in up to a 45% reduction in
transaction numbers and up to a 30% reduction in turnover], forcing them to reduce their workforce and reduce salaries. This is very bad for job security in our country.

“Landlords (lessors) are insisting on full rental and ignoring the reality of reduced trading days and hours and thus reduced income,” said the traders.

This, argue the traders, can only be achieved by removing the disaster management restrictions.

“We respectfully submit that it is unnecessary to further burden our economy with these restrictions and to cause such unnecessary hardship for our members, the burden of which inevitably has fallen on those with the least financial resources to absorb these continuing losses, namely taverns, bottles stores and independent small businesses [many of which are
owned by members who are of previously disadvantaged background].

“For the reasons set out above, we respectfully urge our government immediately to remove the disaster management as it pertains to restrictions on the trading days and hours.

The coalition of liquor traders employs over 232,000 workers: Taverns (200,000), bottle stores (18,000) and Independent Liquor Traders (14,000).

It operates a combined 39,900 liquor outlets: Taverns (34,500), Bottle Stores (4,000), and Retail Stores (1,400).

The Citizen