Liquor stores had more shoppers than normal after ban was lifted

The data confirms that on Monday 1 June, South Africa did indeed behave differently to the Monday of the week before, the month before, and three months before.

Costumers queuing outside a liquor store on 1 June 2020 as the country moved to level 3 lockdown. The sale of alcohol was being allowed since 27 March 2020. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Scores of shoppers flocked to their nearest liquor outlet to purchase booze for the first time in months on 1 June. But were the long lines seen across the country on the day a result of queuing to keep up with regulations, or were there simply many more buyers?

According to data, research and analytics company Lightstone, some stores owners were smiling at the tills, with a recovery in activity as high as 500% in some places. Lightstone used vehicle security company Tracker's data to observe how spending had changed since the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol as South Africa scaled down to level 3 lockdown at the start of this month.

The analysis only identified vehicle trips to shopping centres - not which shops people went to while at the specific centre, nor did it analyse pedestrian movements.

The data shows that out of almost 1,000 shopping centres analysed that offer a liquor outlet, 165 of them had more visitors on 1 June than an equivalent date pre-lockdown (2 March), and compared to month-end in February (with month end being a usually very popular time for shopping trips).

Lightstone said the data was affected by the fact that retail activity was generally higher at the beginning of the month as a result of most salaries having been paid, and also because many more retailers were allowed to open on
1 June compared to previous weeks.

But, their data confirms that on Monday, 1 June, shoppers did indeed behave differently to the Monday of the week before, month before, and three months before when lockdown was not in place.

"Makro stores saw 40% more visitors on 1 June than they had seen on 2 March [the first Monday in June compared to the first Monday in March], but 10% fewer visitors than they saw at month-end on 29 February 2020," it said.

South African went into lockdown - which saw regulations including a ban on liquor sales - at midnight, 26 March.

"On average, the Makro visits in the week leading up to 1 June were already back up to 90% of the pre-lockdown norm, so it seems as if the spike in Monday’s visits can at least be partly attributed to the opening up of alcohol sales," the company said.

These are the liquor stores in the top 20 centres showing the biggest recovery on 1 June: