The Liquor Stores Association of Western Australia (LSAWA) and Retail Drinks Australia (Retail Drinks) are calling for the temporary WA liquor restrictions to be brought into line with the voluntary national initiative adopted by Retail Drinks on 31 March 2020.
The WA Government’s two-week temporary restrictions will come under review on Wednesday April 8.
Peter Peck, CEO of LSAWA, said the restrictions were directly disadvantaging WA businesses compared to those in other states and territories.
“In their current form, the WA Government’s alcohol purchasing restrictions clearly discriminate against Western Australian businesses and benefit their interstate competitors”.
“While Western Australian businesses are required to comply with the WA limits, their interstate competitors can continue to sell higher quantities of alcohol to Western Australian customers.
“This has created a ripple effect across the industry, particularly for our WA wineries, breweries and distilleries who are suffering from the lack of tourism, trade and need to maximise their ability to sell through local WA liquor retailers” Peck added.
Retail Drinks CEO Ms Julie Ryan said the voluntary initiative of Retail Drinks members to implement a consistent national scheme of alcohol purchase restrictions was developed with considerable data into the types of purchasing quantities that would prevent panic buying but would reduce the likelihood of outlet shopping.
“The reality of any purchasing limits is that a person could easily travel to a number of liquor outlets in a single day and purchase well beyond the imposed limits, without fear of penalty.
“It is for this reason that purchase limits are ineffective to address health related concerns and the review should focus on the intended outcome of preventing panic buying.
“Sales data from the first week of our national initiative is already showing its effectiveness as sales have significantly normalised, with minimal disruption to consumers or risk to staff.
“Our initiative has the same intent as the WA Government but shows stricter limits aren’t needed,” Ryan said.
Both Retail Drinks and LSAWA are united in their concerns for risks to retail staff during COVID-19.
“Loyalty data from retailers demonstrates that WA consumers have been purchasing more frequently since the imposition of the limits, which places retail staff at increased risk of transmission,” Ryan added.
Meanwhile, Mr Peck said while most vendors were doing the right thing, the small percentage who were offering cheap and unlimited alcohol through the online platform were hurting small business.
“Even though most vendors have been behaving responsibly there is a portion of the online market that is profiteering and not complying with the laws and as a result that puts us at odds with the philosophy of the restrictions”.
Both Retail Drinks and LSAWA have urged the WA Government to consider alignment to national levels which will prioritise staff safety and put WA business on a level playing field with other states.