Thiruvananthapuram: The sale of liquor via the BevQ app has come as a blessing in disguise for bars in the state. They are now seeing an increase in sales, even as state-run beverage outlets report a steep fall.
Earlier, the State Beverages (M & M) Corporation (BEVCO) supplied liquor worth Rs 10-13 crore daily to bars for sale. But now with bars being allowed to sell bottles as takeaways, the corporation has been supplying them liquor worth Rs 33 crore daily.
This increase has come at the cost of beverage outlets, where the sales have fallen. The BEVCO shops that used to register sales of Rs 28-30 crore daily are now selling liquor worth only Rs 13 crore in a day.
The sales trends indicate that the BevQ app is directing customers more to bars than to BEVCO outlets. Most BEVCO outlets in the state are now almost empty.
Bars are able to easily sell liquor to even those who come without a pass. But since the Bevco outlets are run by the state government, the employees are not willing to circumvent regulations.
What was earlier being sold only through 301 Bevco outlets in the state is now being sold through 1,120 bars also. This would naturally result in about 75% of the business going to bars, said officials.
The BevQ was launched to regulate crowds at bars and liquor outlets in Kerala after they were allowed to reopen following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Now, it is now almost a month since the shops and bars were reopened.
But, interestingly, despite the state reducing the sales timings and tightening restrictions at outlets and bars, there has been a slight increase in turnover from liquor sales.
Earlier, the daily turnover from liquor sales was Rs 41 crore. Now, that has increased to Rs 43 crore. The additional Rs 2 crore revenue is likely a result of the increase in tax.
Since liquor is being sold only to those who make a booking through the BevQ app, there has been a fall in the number of customers.
But since most of them buy the maximum allowed limit of 3 litres per customer, there is a slight increase in turnover despite the lower number of people buying liquor. As a result, liquor sales are continuing at the pre-lockdown levels, said Beverages Corporation officials.
BevQ issues passes for dry day
The BevQ app is at it again. The app, which got a lot of bad press for many glitches and operational problems it faced when it was launched, has now issued passes for purchase of liquor on dry day.
June 26 is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and illicit trafficking and the state government has declared it a dry day. But the BevQ app issued pass to thousands of customers on Thursday for buying liquor on Friday. However, late on Thursday, the app alerted the customers that June 26 is a dry day.
The app was issuing pass till about 1 pm on Thursday. When this came to the notice of the Excise department and the Beverages Corporation employees, they alerted the company behind the app about the dry day.
The company immediately suspended the functioning of BevQ and later issued a message saying June 26 is a dry day.
However, by the time bookings were suspended, about 32,000 had already obtained a pass, said officials.
The company officials said the passes were issued through the app as the Beverages Corporation had not informed it about the dry day.
The issued passes will be invalid. But there is no clarity on whether those who were issued a token for June 26 will have to wait for four more days to make another booking.