Liquor store owners plead for reprieve amid stress of paying staff and rent during trading ban
A plea for the government to lift the ban on off-consumption alcohol purchases and to provide financial assistance to struggling shopkeepers - shut down three times already as part of Covid restrictions - has been made by the Liquor Traders Association of SA.
While acknowledging the difficulty of managing the pandemic, the association said its membership of 1,400 retail liquor stores was suffering under the booze ban.
“They are completely dependent on the sale of liquor for their survival; they do not have additional product categories such as food to supplement their income [and] are largely SMEs,” it said.
“Our members have suffered the severe economic impact of being closed for 100 days during the previous two prohibitions on the sale of liquor. With no income during this period, the ongoing expenses and obligations of salaries, wages, rent, insurance, security, IT charges and finance costs have resulted in crippling damage to cash flow and the decimation of savings and reserves.
“The subsequent sudden announcement of an additional suspension on the sale of liquor on December 28 has left our members in dismay. Another period of zero income, ongoing expenses and stock that is expiring will result in crippling damage to cash flow, and many stores are on the brink of closure.
“Many liquor stores are suffering severe short-term economic stress and are on the verge of collapse. They will not be able to pay a significant proportion of their payroll at the end of this month.
”If liquor stores are not reopened soon, a significant number of employees will face retrenchment.”
Liquor store owners were also taking a hit from break-ins and looting of their stores, said the association.
It asked for UIF Ters support to be reinstated for the period of the ban, rental relief and compensation for stock that expires.
“We respectfully submit that it is unnecessary to further burden our economy with an outright ban of the sale of liquor” when the current ban ends on January 15.