Is tomorrow going to be something like a Black Friday rush? Or is it going to be Phuza Thursday on a Monday?
These are two of the scenarios that present themselves when considering the scenes that will play out across the country when liquor store doors are flung open.
The announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the two-month alcohol drought would end tomorrow was met with ululations, whistles and whoops of joy.
After such a protracted period of no alcohol sales, what will happen can only be left to the imagination. One thing is certain: huge crowds of customers.
With less than 24 hours before liquor outlets open their doors, establishments across the country have been stocking up and are expecting some ferocious buying.
The KwaZulu-Natal independent bottle store owners who City Press spoke to – some of them admitting to coming close to bust as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown – spent Friday and yesterday getting ready for their customers, and said they would be doing the same today.
On Friday, the KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Authority published a notice to all liquor licence holders outlining conditions for the resumption of trade, which mirror national regulations.
Liquor will only be sold from Monday to Thursday, no consumption is allowed at outlets and social distancing has to be enforced. Failure to adhere to the conditions will cost traders their licences.
Outlets started taking deliveries on Friday. “It is a good thing that deliveries started after we disinfected, sanitised and put social distancing markers in place. Most of us have got our stock packed and will on Sunday [today] switch on our fridges to ready the beverages for Monday [tomorrow],” said Winston Hector, president of the Consortium of Liquor Traders’ Association.
“We are expecting a huge rush and we are well prepared to meet the demand. We know which beverages and brands will fly off the shelves and out of the fridges, and we have those ones well stocked. It is going to be a hectic day, but we are ready for it.”
Hector, who runs his liquor businesses in the Eastern Cape, said liquor traders were happy that, although they were only going to be open between Monday and Thursday, deliveries of their stock would happen beyond those days.
Spokesperson for alcoholic beverage company Diageo SA Sibani Mngadi said the return of alcohol sales was a first for them. “This is something we have never experienced. We have planned for Black Fridays and festive seasons, and we will try to be on top of our game with this one as well,” he said.
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