Statistics South Africa has published new data showing how much the price of popular alcohol products has increased over the last year.
The data shows that white wine has seen the biggest increase, rising by an average of 12.8% between June 2020 and June 2021.
This was followed by whiskey (+8.1%), red wine (+6.7%) and spirit coolers and ciders (+4.5%). The average price of beer has increased by 3.3% over the last year, the statistics body said.
The only major alcohol group which saw a decrease in price is liqueurs, which small a marginal drop of 1.1% over the last year.
Alcohol and liquor prices are an easy target for tax hikes in South Africa, and saw excise duties increase by 8% as part of the 2021 Budget changes. Further strain has been placed on the industry through lockdown restrictions and bans over the last 16 months.
Under the country’s adjusted level 3 lockdown, which came into effect on 26 July, the sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption is permitted between 10h00 and 18h00 from Monday to Thursday.
Alcohol sales for on-site consumption is permitted as per licence conditions up to 20h00.
However, alcohol groups and the restaurant continue to push for restrictions to be relaxed further as the Covid-19 limitations continue to put the industry under strain.
South Africa has faced complete alcohol sales bans on four separate occasions since the end of March 2020 as part of the country’s lockdown restrictions, which has decimated jobs and productivity in the sector.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) chief executive Kurt Moore said that the bans have been harmful to both government and business revenue, and are a serious threat to jobs.
“248,759 jobs are still at risk across the industry – about 1.59% of the national total of formal and informal employment for 2020. In addition, the alcohol industry lost 161 days of trading between 26 March 2020 to 25 July 2021 due to the government’s alcohol bans,” he said.
“Even before the cost of the (mid-July) looting to the alcohol industry is factored in, the four alcohol bans have already cost the country’s GDP an estimated R64.8 billion or 1.3% of GDP,” said Moore.
He said that the industry has repeatedly warned and demonstrated via research that the bans had fuelled illegal activity, particularly among crime syndicates whose positions were significantly strengthened during prohibition.
It will be difficult to reverse this, as syndicates have become entrenched, Moore said.
“Illicit trade has reached 22% of total market volumes in South Africa—worth R20.5 billion in sales value. This has cost the fiscus R11.3 billion in tax revenues at a time when the country can least afford it,” said Moore.