Covid-19 pandemic indeed changed boozing habits in Vizag, if we go by the trends of sale in wine shops indicate. With beer, once the most selling alcoholic beverage, remaining on the shelves, while whiskey bottles are literally flying off them. After all state government is becoming more and more dependent on alcohol revenue to pay their bills during this pandemic.
The reason is quite strange, according to wine shop owners. Many tipplers, who earlier went home with more than one bottle of beer, are now avoiding it, especially chilled beer, fearing that they might catch a cold if they drink the chilled beverage. With cold being counted among symptoms of Covid-19, this has hit beer sales hard, they say.
When wine shops were reopened in May after a break of around 45 days, owners anticipated brisk sales of beer due to the peak summer. However, much to their chagrin, tipplers preferred whiskey instead of beer. The trend is continuing even now.
Most customers are now interested in only whiskey, that too, full bottles. “The first preference for many tipplers is Royal Green, 8PM, Old Admiral, Hyderabad Blue, Marific XO and Black & White. What was good about these brands was that, despite a hike in prices they were affordable when compared other brands usually sold in the pre-lockdown period. The demand for these brands has now surged after the government hiked the prices by 75%, a shop owner said. As there are only a few takers for beer, shopkeepers are slashing their indents for beer stocks from the AP State Beverages Corporation Limited, which supplies liquor and beer in the State.
G Venkat, staff at wine shop in Dutt Island, said such poor sales for beer was a first in recent years. A manager of other wine shop at HB colony, said sale of beer had dropped by over 45 per cent during summer and the trend was still continuing. “Customers appear to be thinking that they could catch a cold if they drink chilled beer,” he said.
On the other hand, wine shops are implementing Covid-19 safety measures prescribed by the government for the safety of their staff as well as customers. Bamboos are being erected for separate lines for social distancing norms and a plastic sheet is placed at the shop entrance to avoid direct contact with customers. Apart from masks, now umbrellas, are mandatory for all customers.
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