Buying Limits On Booze To Stop Alcohol Panic-Buying

Australia's liquor giants are banding together to crack down on panic-buying with new purchasing limits set to kick in from Tuesday.

The new voluntary restrictions will apply at Dan Murphy's, Liquorland, Vintage Cellars, First Choice, BWS, Aldi and a range of independent retailers.

As part of the temporary measures, shoppers will only be allowed to purchase two of the following product categories per transaction. They include: 12 bottles of wine, two cases of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits, two wine casks under 10 litres,  and two bottled spirits totalling two litres.

On March 27 spending on alcohol had surged by 34 percent year-on-year as households stockpiled beer, wine and spirits, according to recent figures from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Spending on alcohol goods is up 86 percent compared to the same week a year go, but spending on alcohol services (at pubs and restaurants) plunged by 46 percent.

The government sparked a panic-buying frenzy when announcing non-essential business closures in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The new voluntary restrictions on alcohol purchasing kick in today. Image: Getty

But it left Australians confused about what constitutes 'non-essential' and 'essential'.

Retail Drinks Australia's CEO, Julie Ryan, said in-store sales have flattened out slightly following a dramatic spike.

She acknowledged consumers are likely to feel a "certainty of supply during times of crisis" but they're trying to ensure shoppers continue purchasing alcohol responsibly as they normally would.

“Our suppliers in breweries, wineries, distilleries and the wholesale and distribution of drinks continue to be fully operational and this means there are no issues of supply," Ryan said in a statement.

“However, it was clear that uncertainty on the impact of supply following the closure of pubs, clubs and restaurants last week caused some people to purchase differently."

Image: Retail Drinks Australia

Ryan said bottle shops remain an essential service and there are no issues of supply.

Last week Dan Murphy's and BWS already started rolling out purchase restrictions.

According to a media release on Dan Murphy's website, the alcohol retailer said the limits are in place purely to ensure everyone has access to products.

"We appreciate your understanding during this time," the statement read.

"These are subject to change at any time and we reserve the right to cancel items from your order if they are exceeding our limits or our ability to supply. You will be automatically refunded any items not supplied."

However, Western Australia is exempt from the voluntary measures after the state government decided to impose its own.

It is understood shoppers in the West will be limited to one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits each day or three bottles of wine, a litre of spirits or a litre of fortified wine.

Drinkers will be able to mix between two types of booze, providing they don’t exceed the limits.

Signage will be displayed in stores across Australia to remind shoppers of the temporary restrictions. Ryan also urged customers to be kind to liquor store employees.

“Please remember that our liquor retail staff are working hard to serve you and they deserve to be treated with respect and courtesy while they assist you to understand these changes," she said.