Retailers ready as Durban customers flood in for cigarettes and alcohol

Umlazi resident Portia Mvuyana drove more than 20km to a large liquor outlet in Durban so she could stockpile alcohol “in peace”.

Mvuyana was among the first enthusiastic buyers who queued outside Liberty Liquors in Greyville to make their long-awaited purchases.

“I have been very thirsty. I took a break when the ban on alcohol sales came about. I didn’t want to buy the fake stuff because I was scared for my health. I waited and now I can buy my originals.”

Mvuyana said she decided not to stock up in Umlazi: “It's just too busy there. They are even more thirsty.”

She said she planned to spend about R2,000 on gin and wine.

Many of those who queued outside the store had arrived from about 6.30am.

A few kilometres away, at Makro in Springfield, a queue was slowly growing longer.

“It's not as busy as we anticipated, but I'm sure it will pick up,” said Andre van der Merwe, Makro risk manager.

He said while the store's wine supply was slightly depleted, there was sizeable stock of other liquor.

Canadian expat Michael Braun, who joined the queue at Makro, was pleased he no longer has to resort to home brewing.

“I'm happy the ban on sales has been lifted. We have been making apple beer and ginger beer, but it is not the same as the real stuff,” he said.

Inside the store, a safety officer was keeping bulk cigarette buyers in check.

“We want to ensure social distancing so the safety officer will make sure those buying cigarettes at the tobacco counter follow the rules,” said Van der Merwe.

Bulk cigarette buyers started lining up with trolleys to secure supplies from 7am.

Daniel Tesfi, who owns a convenience shop in central Durban, said while he was not a smoker, he was at Makro to make his customers “happy again”.

“I am going to buy R5,000 worth of cigarettes, which should last a week.

“I'm expecting many of my smoking customers to return. Business will hopefully be good again,” said Tesfi.

Vincent Naicker, who owns a small supermarket in Bonella, outside Durban, said not being able to sell cigarettes had “drastically” affected his business.

“Without cigarettes it was not worth running my business. Hopefully the lifting of the ban on sales will boost business,” he said.

Pick n Pay and the Shoprite Group both told TimesLIVE their stores were stocked and ready for customers.

The Shoprite Group said: “Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets have made the necessary arrangements to prepare for the reopening of its LiquorShops and in-store wine sections, and to resume with tobacco sales. We have adequate stock available and the stores will be in a position to trade.”

Pick n Pay said: “We have worked hard to restock our stores, and would encourage customers to shop responsibly.”


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