Retailers Gear Up For New Liquor Rules

With new rules restricting the retail sale and public consumption of alcohol just around the corner, retailers have begun taken steps to comply with restrictions.

Some retailers have begun reminding customers of the impending change with signage at their stores, while others are looking into restricting access to their alcoholic beverages sections.

From Wednesday (April 1), public drinking and alcohol retail sales will not be allowed between 10.30pm to 7am.

Passed in January, the laws were prompted by rising alcohol-related violence and risk of public disorder, and caused some outcry when introduced. The public will still be allowed to drink at home, at approved events and in licensed establishments such as bars and coffee shops outside of the restricted hours.

Asked how it was preparing for the new laws, a FairPrice spokesperson said there will be prominent signs displaying the retail hours for alcohol in the over 280 FairPrice and Cheers retail outlets.

Dairy Farm Singapore Group – which counts supermarket chain Cold Storage and Giant and convenience store 7-Eleven among its brands – will be modifying its point of sale or cash registering systems to curb the sale of booze during restricted hours.

Sheng Siong is contemplating cordoning off the alcoholic beverages area after hours and reopening them in the morning when sales resume. All its 35 outlets around the island sell alcohol and 29 of them operate around the clock.

On average, alcohol sales peak at around 8pm. “In the short term, sales may be affected by the liquor ban. But as consumers change their buying habits – stocking up their beer or wine earlier (before 10.30pm) to drink at home, sales should recover after some time,” said a Sheng Siong spokesperson.

At Prime and YES supermarkets, alcohol-laden shelves will be covered by cloth or roller blinds from 10.30pm. The YES supermarket chain, which sells alcohol in three out of its five outlets, will also be locking up its liquor chillers.

One senior staff – with at least three years of experience – has been assigned the night shift at each of these outlets starting this month, said Managing Director Kwek Hong Lim. These three outlets are open 24 hours.

“We brainstormed scenarios: What if a customer comes in slightly drunk (after 10.30pm), opens a can and says he wants to buy it? That’s why we’ve shifted our more experienced staff to take the night shift. It’ll be better to have someone more senior who’s able to handle the customer politely,” said Mr Kwek.

Some alcohol retailers and manufacturers – including FairPrice, 7-Eleven and Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) Singapore – have also jointly proposed a voluntary programme for retailer to create a “responsible culture” for alcohol sales.

This includes plans to train and certify all retail store managers on the responsible sale of alcohol – under the Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) workshop – within the first year of the law coming into effect.

Giving an update, Ms Shannen Fong, APB Singapore’s head of corporate relations, said that the liquor industry is targeting to implement the programme by next month.

“APB also participated in a dialogue session with the authorities recently and is encouraged that the industry’s (programme) is regarded as a point of differentiation for liquor retail sale hours extension,” said Ms Fong.

Dairy Farm Singapore Group has enrolled over 600 operations staff for a four-hour TIPS workshop. Training will take place in phases next month.

“(It) will empower our staff to take a proactive approach towards preventing alcohol misuse and maintaining control of the environment,” said a Dairy Farm spokesperson.

“At the end of this, our staff will be certified to deal with problem behaviour and the challenges associated with underage drinking and drunk driving.”




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