Online liquor stores flooded with orders in South Africa

After South Africans first learned that they would be moving to level 3 lockdown from 1 June, they immediately began to order alcohol.

Physical stores only opened on 1 June, but online retailers were able to receive orders ahead of the scheduled lockdown level change.

While they were able to accept pre-orders, online retailers are restricted by the same regulations as physical liquor stores, which means they may only deliver orders between 09:00 and 17:00 from Monday to Thursday.

Online liquor retailer CyberCellar told MyBroadband that immediately after President Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to level 3 lockdown, it saw a significant spike in traffic on its online platform.

“Traffic has been highest through the last 10 days, but by far the biggest single spike was the day immediately after the announcement that we’re moving to level 3,” the company said.

Even after physical liquor stores opened on 1 June, CyberCellar saw a marked increase in traffic compared to its pre-lockdown sales.

“Even though alcohol sales were open at physical retailers, there was still an increase in traffic and orders compared to pre-lockdown numbers,” the retailer said.

“During the lockdown, sales were reasonably steady with a marked increase in the last month leading up to the announcement on 24 May.”

Even with the influx of visitors after the level 3 lockdown announcement, CyberCellar said that its online platform remained online and stable.

“The most strain is on our operations team in processing and dispatching all the orders.”

Order delays

CyberCellar said that it has experienced significant delays in delivering orders due to increased demand.

“There were a lot of orders already in the system before 24 May and the level 3 announcement. We’ve had to send out notice to our customers saying that we’re working through a serious backlog.”

“Some will already have received their orders but others will only get next week or after, so we’ve expanded our team and added delivery partners to help speed things up but still maintain safe work conditions,” the company said.

The retailer added that regulations which restricted delivery days made it more difficult to deliver products promptly.

“All we want is everyone to get their orders as quickly as possible, but the Monday – Thursday alcohol rule means we can’t deliver on Friday or Saturday.” CyberCellar said.

“That cuts out 33% of our usual time – so it doesn’t help things.”

Massive queues

The start of level 3 lockdown marked the unbanning of alcohol sales in South Africa.

This caused South Africans across the country to flock to their nearest bottle store, resulting in extremely long queues at these shops.

MyBroadband visited the Makro in Centurion at 08:30 on 1 June – 30 minutes before the store was allowed to sell alcohol – and the queues were already snaking through the parking lot.

There were between 200-300 people in the queue on Monday morning.

Despite the deregulation of alcohol sales, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products remains prohibited in South Africa.

Now read: Here is when you can buy alcohol under level 3 lockdown

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Online liquor stores flooded with orders in South Africa