Bottle shops classed as an essential service

23 March, 2020 by Deborah Jackson

As a part of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s stage one shutdown measures announced last night, bottle shops have been classed as an essential service and permitted to continue trading, including those attached to a pub or club.

While this is good news for liquor stores, Retail Drinks Australia is urging its members to be prepared for possible stage two shut downs and encourages them to think about how they could supply for home delivery.

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Retail Drinks has been working in collaboration and conjunction with Carlton & United Breweries, Lion, Diageo, Spirits & Cocktails Australia, Brewers Association, Australian Grape & Wine, Endeavour Drinks, Coles Liquor, Australian Liquor Marketers, and more, in order to ensure consistency in message.

Their collaborative position is that liquor retailers, including takeaway, should be allowed to continue to trade.

In a statement to members, Retail Drinks, said: “At this stage, there is no guarantee as to what further shutdown measures may look like and whether all of liquor retail will be permitted to remain open.

“Given this uncertainty, we would urge all Members to prepare themselves now for the possibility of increased trading restrictions and/or potential closure in the event that additional shutdown measures are announced.

“Retail Drinks has been strongly advocating for online alcohol deliveries to remain accessible regardless of the severity of future shutdown measures to help support small businesses.

“Retail Drinks recommends that all Members start communicating to their local customers about how they would be able to access home delivery options should additional shutdown measures be announced.

“If you do not already have one, consider setting up a website or Facebook page to ensure that your customers remain informed about their options. Further to this, Members should also consider in-store collateral materials (signage, flyers etc) communicating information on home delivery options to customers.”

Julie Ryan, CEO of Retail Drinks, told National Liquor News: “We are here to support with training materials etc. all from our Online Code which can help people do delivery safely and responsibly.”

A changing retail landscape

The Liquor Stores Association  of Western Australia (LSA WA) has been engaged in continued discussions with the State Government in relation to trading and appropriate volumes of supply and social distancing measures as we steer through the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSA WA CEO Peter Peck called on members to remain calm amid the changing landscape of the industry.

“It’s important we ensure there is no excessive purchasing of alcohol like we have seen with other household items (toilet paper rolls and hand sanitiser),” he said.

“However, the fact remains there will be volume restrictions on alcohol. The current stock levels of all beverages are in adequate supply for market demand.

“We wish to keep it this way and that is why we are working with the State Government to ensure where possible there are no shortages.

“Pending the outcome of those discussions we strongly recommend liquor store retailers reassess staffing levels and any health protocols they will need to enforce for any increase in store traffic.

“It is imperative that we work together so the doors stay open, the lights stay on and people stay employed,” he said.

The LSA WA expects a decision to be made shortly and will inform its members as soon as it’s handed down by the State Government.