Liquor traders are being forced to retrench staff and in some cases cut salaries by nearly 30% as a result of no weekend trading being allowed.

This is according to a coalition of two of the country’s liquor retailing organisations, the National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) and Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA).

Together, they represent a significant number of township-based taverns, bottle stores and independently owned retail liquor traders.

Letter to President Ramaphosa

They have now written a joint letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for an immediate lifting of the current restrictions on the sale of alcohol, which is allowed only from 9am-5pm on Monday to Friday. Public holiday sales are also not permitted.

They say income has been lost as a result of the restrictions, yet at the same time landlords are insisting that full rental – the same agreements that were in place before lockdown – must be paid.

According to the letter, transactions have reduced by around 45% and turnover has reduced by around 35%. In addition, outlets that sold extras such as charcoal, snack and cold drinks over weekends can now not do so, which is compounding their losses.

In the letter, dated 23 October, the NLTC and LTASA ask that the sale of liquor for off-site consumption be allowed to return to the same hours that were in force pre-lockdown.

More people will drink at home

They also argue that doing so will be a benefit in the fight against COVID-19, as more people will stay at home to consume alcohol if it is more easily available, rather than flooding restaurants and bars.

“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],” the letter states.

“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.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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