Gin & guaped orders: Booze sellers scramble to meet thirsty orders ahead of Tuesday rush

18 August 2020 - 06:38 By Unathi Nkanjeni
A Johannesburg liquor outlet gets ready for the big day. Bottle stores expect a rush of customers aiming to replenish low stocks.
A Johannesburg liquor outlet gets ready for the big day. Bottle stores expect a rush of customers aiming to replenish low stocks.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Online alcohol outlets saw a massive influx of thirsty citizens flocking to their sites to place pre-orders after President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed booze sales would be allowed.

From Tuesday, SA moved to lockdown level 2, and prohibitions on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products have been lifted.

Alcohol is permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments until 10pm. Liquor outlets are allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption from Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm. E-commerce deliveries (but not orders) are subject to the same days and times.

Dry Dock Liquor co-owner Martin Pienaar told TimesLIVE that orders have been steadily increasing on their site since Saturday evening as many customers tried to secure a place in the delivery queue. He said the average basket was R2,500.

“As we anticipated, the spikes in orders have not been as great as those we experienced with the first reopening in June,” he said.

“The reason for this is that this time the prohibition on the sale of alcohol was shorter — one month compared to two months previously — and customers, wary of a second lockdown, increased their home stock levels.

“We are very encouraged to see repeat orders from customers who are returning to the online store to order again since the announcement of the end of the ban.”

Pienaar said they are currently working on filling the backlog of orders that have built up over the last few weeks, since the president’s second ban announcement.

He said there was a lot of pressure to be ready to deliver orders by 9am but they were delighted to welcome customers once more.

“We are putting strategies in place to manage the number of people in the store and ensure that all hygiene protocols are in place for both our team and customers,” he said.

Pienaar said due to the high number of orders, not every customer would be able to get their preferred choice of booze. But he hoped that by next week stock levels would go back to normal.

Net Liquor said they had seen a large increase in visitors to their website since Sunday morning. The online bottle store also said demand was not as high as the first reopening.

“We have allowed customers to place pre-orders. However, we will only be initiating the sale and delivering during the government-regulated trading hours. Customers can choose when they want their orders to be delivered, within the restricted trading hours,” the store said.

'It's been a roller-coaster ride': bottle stores get back to business

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Net Liquor said gin products were the most requested and they would work out what has sold out once orders have been paid.

“We have actively ensured we have adequate stock of all core products to ensure our website can handle orders and customer requests. We have geared up customer service agents to assist with customer queries,” it said.

“We have reduced our free delivery distance from 25km to within 15km of Sandton, to ensure we can maintain high levels of customer service, which we pride ourselves on.”

Delivery service app Bottles only started accepting pre-orders of liquor from 4pm on Monday.

“From our experience from the last lifting of the ban, people will be hurrying to stock up on alcohol, so the next couple of weeks will see huge volumes of orders coming through,” said co-founder Vince Viviers.

“We urge people to please not panic buy, drink responsibly, stay safe and stay home.”