Drinkers more worried about job losses than finding booze, survey finds

They were 'overwhelmingly focused' on the fear that formal jobs in 'legal, tax-paying businesses may be lost while the black market thrives'.

The reinstatement of the ban on alcohol sales caught most South Africans unawares, and while the majority of drinkers agree with the rationale behind the ban from a medical point of view, concern for the loss of jobs is mounting.

More than 1 000 South Africans responded to a digital survey created by gig technology company M4Jam via their mobile devices last week. Of those, 62% said they do drink alcohol, and of those, two-thirds (66%) said they agreed with the ban’s reinstatement.

“What is interesting to note is that 79% of respondents believe the government has made the right decision in a reinstating the ban, which supports the findings of a previous alcohol-related survey conducted by M4Jam, where almost half of the respondents felt that the government was wrong by lifting the ban,” said M4Jam CEO Georgie Midgley.

“The downside, however, is that although people understand the basis behind reinstating the ban, there is a massive concern around the job losses and its impact on people’s ability to feed their families,” she said

It comes as no surprise that 89% of drinkers who took the survey said they had not stocked up on alcohol supplies before the ban was reinstated, even though the second wave of Covid-19 infections was peaking and the government’s decision was anticipated. 75% of respondents who drink alcohol thought some warning should have been given, with 69% saying they would have stocked up, if given the chance

More than half (53%) of those who drink alcohol said they will continue to drink during the ban, with an even larger majority (58%) believing the ban wouldn’t stop friends and family from drinking, either. However, only 28% felt they would be able to find alcohol to buy during the prohibition.

Of those who knew a source, 66% said they had a back-door supplier, 9% said their local shops would still sell alcohol, and the rest believed they would still be able to find alcohol somewhere. 63% of drinkers said alcohol prices had begun to climb as a result of the ban, with the most common price premium (42%) being up to R50 more than regular prices. 24% reported seeing prices at R250 and upwards of regular costs for the same items.

In terms of the alcohol ban’s intended effects in stemming the tide of related injuries, trauma and vehicle accidents, only 47% of respondents were less worried about the safety of themselves, friends and family with the ban in place. In fact, 30% of respondents strongly disagreed that they should be less worried.

Despite these beliefs, 22% of respondents said they thought the ban would reduce vehicle accidents in their communities, 21% said public disturbances would be reduced, 21% felt related hospital incidents would decline and 19% believed violence in general would occur less.

58% of respondents still felt they were better off with the ban in place, and 55% were positive the country’s healthcare facilities would benefit from the ban.

“Open-ended commentary from respondents was overwhelmingly focused on the fear related to job losses, with many recognising that – as has been the case with illegal cigarette sales during lockdown – formal jobs in legal, tax-paying businesses may be lost while the black market thrives,” said Midgley.

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