New Zealand bottle shops have been overwhelmed by panic buying ahead of the country’s COVID-19 Level 4 lock down tomorrow.
According to Paymark, spending at New Zealand bottle shops and supermarkets reached a total of $111 million on Monday, up of 157% on the same day last year.
The New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) said one liquor store reported a 1800% spike in sales.
Meanwhile, initial indications at the Invercargill Licensing Trust were that it was the biggest ever day of sales for its bottle shops.
Uncertainty surrounds whether bottle shops will be regarded as “essential services” during Level 4, which will be enforced for at least month.
Linda Cooper, president of the Waitākere Licensing Trust, said: “We absolutely – as a lot of people in New Zealand do – consider alcohol as essential,” she said.
“But stress drinking is not advised: Don’t use alcohol to manage stress.”
Thirsty Liquor managing director Tina Govan told Stuff NZ the advice was on closures was not clear: “We’re waiting for more clarification from the Government.”
West Auckland’s The Trusts said it would have stores open for trading, so there was no need to panic buy.
The Trusts controls liquor sales outside of supermarkets in the area. It has shut nearly half of its 23 West Auckland stores, while the remainder will stay open until Thursday with trading restrictions, allowing only three people in the store at one time.
From Thursday, customers will need to phone or email their orders, before going to the store to show their identification and pick up their goods outside the store, acting chief executive Matt Williams said.
NZABC executive director Bridget MacDonald told the New Zealand Herald: “We understand that consumers want to ensure they have stocks in hand for the four-week isolation period, but a rush on product is not going to help anyone.”
The council is in talks with the Government about whether bottle shops will stay open and also the status of online sales and home delivery.
There are fears that New Zealand liquor stores could be targeted by looters if access to alcohol is restricted.
A Christchurch bottle shop has already barricaded its doors with concrete blocks to stop ram raiders during the lock down.
Super Liquor owner Jo Jarden said she installed the barriers outside her store on Tuesday morning.
“They are to stop ram raids with people getting desperate,” she told Stuff NZ.
In Australia, liquor sales have jumped up 20% over the past week.