Retail Drinks refutes latest findings from FARE

July 21, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Retail Drinks Australia has criticised research released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) regarding the online liquor retailing industry.

Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters refuted the research’s claims that online customers were not subject to age verification processes, highlighting the fact that age verification occurs at various points throughout the supply chain, including at delivery and not just at point of sale.

Mr Waters said, “This finding demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding the nature of the online alcohol delivery services.

“The use of incomplete data to arrive at inadequate findings ahead of a parliamentary debate on liquor laws in Victoria not only skews the debate in the wrong direction but it also undermines 2 years’ worth of public policy consultation and is sadly tone deaf to the pressures being felt by retailers during a global pandemic.”

Waters dismissed the notion in the FARE report that an increase in the popularity of online liquor retailing was cause for alarm in and of itself, noting the need for online delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic for customers in lockdown or simply wishing to avoid leaving the home to purchase these goods.

“Contrary to FARE’s commentary, the fact that online alcohol services have grown in popularity is hardly a cause for panic, particularly given the significant shift in consumer behaviour brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Retail Drinks notes that while retail alcohol sales may have increased, including online alcohol sales and deliveries, overall alcohol consumption is still in a state of decline.

“State & Territory governments throughout the country have been imploring consumers to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission by ordering online and the growth in the online retail liquor industry is no different to any other retail sector,” said Mr Waters.

Retail Drinks’ Online Alcohol Sale & Delivery Code of Conduct (The Code) which has established a set of responsibility standards in online liquor retailing which goes above and beyond the law in most Australian states and territories.

“Retail Drinks has responded to the growth in online liquor retailing by proactively establishing an industry-first, world-leading Code, which has now been in place for over two years and covers over 80 per cent of all alcohol sold online and delivered in Australia.

“As per the requirements of the Code, these systems must verify the age of customers as over 18 and consist of more than a manual date of birth entry. The Code also mandates a number of key responsibility measures, including a ban on same-day unattended alcohol deliveries, block-out delivery times, self-exclusion and mandatory training for all alcohol delivery drivers.”

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