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Restrictions On Booze Purchases In Australia To Lift From Today

Restrictions on alcohol purchases will be lifted across all Australian bottle shops and liquor retailers from today after panic-buying triggered nationwide booze restrictions.

Retail Drinks Australia released a statement which explained its members’ voluntary national initiative -- which placed temporary restrictions on how many products a customer could purchase in one transaction -- would come to an end from the opening of trading hours on Tuesday.

Buying limits were introduced at major retailers and independent bottle shops on March 31 in response to panic-buying.

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As part of the temporary measures, shoppers were only allowed to purchase two of the following product categories per transaction. They included: 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.

The initiative was voluntary and temporary.

But retail giants such as Liquorland, BWS and Dan Murphy's jumped on board and were joined by smaller independent retailers.

In a statement released on Monday, Retail Drinks CEO Julie Ryan said the temporary restrictions helped alleviate concerns about the potential panic-buying of alcohol.

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“After monitoring data closely over the last month, we can report that despite early elevated purchasing following initial announcements of Covid-19 related restrictions, we have seen purchasing trends flatten and return to near-normal," she said.

Ryan said retail liquor trading has returned to the same levels seen last year, and in many cases has "significantly lowered".

She said liquor retail sales are down 15 percent year on year and Easter trading was also down 10 percent on last year's figures.

“Some liquor retailers are reporting their worst April trading in over four years," Ryan said.

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The reductions in sales is consistent with the Commonwealth Bank's 'Global Economic And Markets Research report CBA Card Spend' for the week of April 3.

According to the report, alcohol purchasing was 10 percent lower in the first week of April compared to the same period last year.

Ryan explained Australians’ alcohol consumption has been following a downward trend for many years, so a small stint of panic-buying has done nothing to shift that.

Ryan also argues there are very few surveys which examined the risk of increased alcohol-related harm during the coronavirus crisis. 

"They [surveys] didn’t actually ask people how much they were drinking, so this doesn’t tell us anything relevant about Australian’s drinking habits," she said.

But she noted the downward trend in consumption suggests Australians are gradually opting for a more healthy balanced lifestyle.