Liquor sales in off-shops drop by 50% after curbs in WB

KOLKATA: Sales at liquor off-shops have started dropping over the past two days ever since an order from the state chief secretary on May 1 restricted the hours for markets and stores selling non-essential items in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the order, all liquor off-shops are supposed to remain open from 7am to 10am and then again, from 3pm to 5pm.
A leading liquor merchant, who runs a couple of shops in the city, told TOI it had already witnessed a 50% fall in sales in two days. The timing was a problem, he said, adding they faced difficulty opening the shop at 7am. “Most of our employees come from faraway places and so, we face difficulty opening before 8am-8.30pm,” he said, adding the best timing for liquor trade would have been 10am to noon and then again, from 4pm to 6pm.
A retailer in central Kolkata said that from a daily average sale of Rs 1.5 lakh-Rs 2 lakh at most establishments, it had come down to Rs 50,000-Rs 75,000 a day. “We are also facing problems with home delivery as we have to register business within the restricted hours,” he added.
Another retailer, who has shops in north Kolkata, said they had to arrange for a lot of employees’ accommodation to open the shop by even 8am. “I know some shops that cannot open before 9am,” he said.
Kolkata has 350 bars and more than 1,500 off-shops and country spirit shops; country spirit shops are allowed to sell IMFL. The total figure in Bengal is more than 7,000, taking bars and off-shops together.
In Bengal, 33.6 crore 750ml bottles of spirits, including whisky, rum, gin and vodka, and 11.2 crore 650ml bottles of beer are sold annually.

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