Sale of spirits, RTDs at West Auckland liquor stores to be banned during lockdown to stop long queues of out-of-towners

Source: 1News

West Auckland liquor stores will no longer sell certain drinks for the remainder of the nationwide lockdown as a measure to reduce out-of-area customers travelling long distances to purchase alcohol.

The Trusts announced this afternoon that from Monday their retail stores will no longer sell spirits and premixed [RTDs] drinks to reduce the rate of consumers who are travelling across town to purchase such alcoholic beverages.

"The policy will last while the country remains at COVID-19 alert Level 4," The Trusts said in a statement.

The Trusts discussed their options with police after queues at West Auckland liquor stores piled up yesterday with many - including out-of-area Kiwis - waiting in line for hours to purchase alcohol. 

The move will mean West Auckland's liquor stores will aligned with supermarkets and other retailers open during the current lockdown which sell only beer, wine and cider.

The new regulations were put in place after the retailer’s analysis of purchase data in some of their stores showed the sale of spirits as a proportion of total alcohol revenue had lifted significantly since the lockdown began and the collection of customer addresses revealed up to a quarter of them lived outside of West Auckland.

CEO of The Trusts Matt Williams says their first priority is the safety of the general public and staff.

“While there was a negligible change to our customer profiles in some of our stores, we were greatly concerned to find there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest that a number of people are travelling from other parts of town to purchase from us," Mr Williams said.

“We don't believe this is in keeping with the Government’s mandate to restrict the movement of people and the spread of COVID-19 and, as a result, we have modified our product mix - reducing the incentive for Aucklanders to leave their area.

“We regret the inconvenience this may cause to our West Auckland community who have supported us throughout the lockdown, however we know they will understand that as a community-minded organisation health and safety must take precedence."

Mr Williams added store trading hours will remain the same for the time being but are continuously being review in response to the level of customer demand. Similarly, the sale of spirits policy will be reviewed when the country moves to alert level three.

The retail purchase of spirits and RTDs will still be possible through a number of online retailers around the country.