Press Release

LTASA represents a very high proportion of the independently owned retail and wholesale liquor trade in South Africa.

Our members represent 1 410 of-consumption liquor stores that employ over 14 000 employees.

Our purpose is to make representative submissions to government regarding the off-consumption sale of liquor during the National State of Disaster COVID-19. Herewith a summary of the proposal.

Support for Government

We commend, respect and fully support our Government’s commitment to save as many lives as possible during this pandemic. We applaud the courageous and difficult steps taken by our President and his dedicated team of Ministers and advisers to combat the spread of COVID-19 and our members commit to do everything in our power to prevent the spread of COVID19 in our stores and workplaces.

Current devastating reality

Thousands of independently owned liquor stores face imminent financial ruin as the ban of the sale of alcohol continues.

  • Liquor stock worth tens of millions of Rands is close to reaching its expiry date and will result in the demise of thousands of off-consumption liquor stores.
  • Our members businesses are mostly SME’s and have been closed since lockdown (27 March 2020). Without any sales and ongoing expenses including salaries, wages, rent, insurance, security, IT charges and finance costs, our members’ face crippling damage to cashflow which is simply not sustainable.
  • Many employees will not be paid at the end of May 2020 and face imminent retrenchment.
  • Many of our members have suffered from break-ins, theft and looting and the risk thereof increases daily.
  • The sale of illicit and potentially dangerous alcohol is rampant and widespread and illicit traders are gaining a strong foothold in the market. Our members comprise a significant portion of the legal off-consumption market and are important contributors our country’s tax revenues.
  • Other linked sectors that rely on retail and wholesale liquor are seriously compromised, including IT software providers, advertising agencies, shopfitters, refrigeration, cleaning, packaging, couriers, security, insurance brokers etc
  • In summary, many of our members liquor stores are suffering severe short-term economic stress and are on the verge of collapse.

PROPOSAL

Retail sale of liquor via off-consumption liquor stores

Permit the off-consumption sale of liquor during alert level 4 under certain conditions as detailed below

(Our members cannot wait until alert level 3 to trade. It will be too late.)

Condition 1: Trading Hours

Proposed Trading Hours:

  • Mon- Fri: 9am – 6pm
  • Saturday: 9am – 4pm
  • Sundays & Public holidays: closed

These proposed hours will:

  • Spread demand and enable retailers to cope whilst ensuring employees and customers adhere to safety protocols.
  • Provide sufficient time, before and after closing, to prepare and sanitise stores for trade.
  • Allow consumers to shop after work
  • Prevent staff from having to commute during the busiest times of the day

IMPORTANT

The trading hours proposed under alert level 3 are:

  • Mon- Wed: 8am – 12pm

We urgently request that Government reconsider these extremely restrictive hours. These proposed hours will:

  • Significantly concentrate demand into only 4 hours per day for 3 days a week.
  • Increase excessive queuing and crowding and make social distancing impossible
  • Result in anxiety, frustration and even possible violence and looting.

Condition 2: Restriction on quantity sold per transaction

  • Quantity restrictions should be:
    • simple to communicate to consumers and staff
    • practical to enforce
    • low enough to mitigate against resale
    • high enough to limit frequent travel to liquor outlets and prevent ‘’panic buying’’
    • Enable sufficient legal alcohol availability to reduce market for illicit trade
  • Recommended restrictions per sale:
    • A consumer can purchase any 5 items of liquor, where 1 item is:
      • 1 tray of beer or Ready to Drink convenience packs (24 cans or bottles – non returnable)
      • 1 crate of beer or ready-to-drink large packs (12 bottles – returnable)
      • 1 box of wine or sparkling wine (6 bottles)
      • 1 unit of box wine (1 box)
      • 1 bottle of spirits or liqueur or fortified wine (1 bottle)
    • A consumer can mix and match any combination of the above but may not buy more than 5 items in total.

Condition 3: Strict adherence to all COVID19 health and safety protocols

  • The submission document details all the relevant practical measures and considerations that our members will adhere to in order to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our stores and workplaces.

Condition 4: Manage the initial surge in demand

  • Employees to be allowed to start work in retail liquor stores 4 days before opening to the public. This will enable staff to put all relevant safety measures in place before opening.
  • Week 1 of opening:
    • Every customer to present ID for security to check
    • Surnames A – M: Allowed to shop first Mon & Wed,
    • Surnames N – Z: Allowed to shop first Tues & Thurs
    • Everyone: Allowed to shop Fri and Saturday
    • Additional security to check ID’S, allow access and manage queuing.
    • Full staff complement (excluding staff over 60 years old and those with COVID-19 comorbidities) to manage initial surge in demand. Reduce thereafter.

Wholesale sale of liquor by redistributors with NLA redistribution licenses:

  • Permit the sale and distribution of liquor products to off-consumption licensed outlets only by wholesale redistributors with NLA distribution licenses during Alert Level 4 under the following conditions:
    • Sale (distribution or call & collect) to licensed off-consumption outlets only
    • No reps to call on customers
    • No supply to on-consumption outlets
    • Restrict the hours of sale as per retail hours above

We are fully committed to joining our Government in the fight against the spread of COVD19 and look forward to engaging with you to help save lives and save our businesses.