Maharashtra allowed home delivery of liquor during the coronavirus pandemic under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It withdrew the permission from June 3
Companies have asked the Maharashtra government to reconsider its ban on home delivery of liquor, claiming reversing a pandemic-time policy will cause job loss.
International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI), which represents the industry, has made representations to the state government. Maharashtra allowed home delivery of liquor during the coronavirus pandemic under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. It withdrew the permission from June 3.
“Many retailers had put in investments to set up home delivery mechanisms like making an app, hiring staff to process orders, etc. They also hired locals as delivery boys. Hundreds of jobs would also be lost if home deliveries are stopped. They (retailers) had started witnessing a steady rise in the number of orders,” said an industry executive who requested anonymity.
The executive said many states allowed home delivery during the pandemic. Maharashtra was ideal for business, recording over 50 lakh deliveries (May 2020 to May 2022). It gave home delivery licenses to many retailers, facilitating people to get liquor at their homes and helping with social distancing.
Excise department figures for West Bengal and Maharashtra on the number of orders placed during the pandemic validate the argument for home delivery, said Nita Kapoor, CEO of ISWAI.
West Bengal recorded a total order count of 1.91 lakh home deliveries with a registered buyer count of around 1.5 lakh. Maharashtra recorded close to 60 lakh home deliveries between May 15, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
“Given the demand among citizens in all the states, we believe that if the home delivery model is regularised with all the necessary regulations in place, going forward, this could become a potential channel for encouraging responsible drinking beside the growth of revenue for states,” Kapoor said.
Allowing home delivery will address the problem of the low retail density of liquor outlets, which minimizes the reach of brands. It will restrict the sale of counterfeit liquor through informal supply chains and curb underage consumption, she said.