The committee formed by a panel of experts in Delhi to suggest changes in the existing excise policy has highlighted two points: ensuring equitable access of liquor supply and transform the nature of liquor trade to commensurate with the changing stature of the national capital.
The recommendations rightfully address concerns arising from underserved areas. Delhi has a population of 19 million. Additionally, around two million people travel for work to Delhi from adjoining states daily.
Sample this: Around 60 % of Delhi’s population is above the age of 25 years, the legal drinking age, and I understand that almost 80% of the floating population would be of working age group. Moreover, the Capital’s resident population density is the highest among all states in India at 9340 per sq km.
To serve a population of this size, Delhi has 720 licensed alcohol vending retail shops, including 88 country liquor shops. Considering that 60% of the population is above 25, there is one retail outlet to cater to 16,000 residents and another 2,500 consumers of the floating population.
Now not all would be alcohol-beverage consumers. Even if we consider 25% of this number as consumers, we still have 4,500 people dependent on one vendor.
Beyond this population matrix, remember Delhi is a city state, with a very small geography, leading to congested commercial areas, therefore it’s not unusual to witness long queues at liquor stores across the Capital.
Relative to rest of India, residents of Delhi are much more tech savvy, that includes being comfortable with digital tools for hyper-local delivery of food and grocery.
Around 83% of Delhi’s population owns mobile devices. So it’s time to leverage this smartphone penetration to at least de-congest the city’s liquor shops. Moreover, the Delhi government provides home delivery of many citizen services, which is one great initiative that leverages this comfort factor with tech.
With regards to alcohol retailing in Delhi, I would like to highlight that the government needs to consider progressive policies that can offer safer options for consumers to engage with the category, and simultaneously empower our alcohol retail owners.
There are enough reasons why consumers need alcohol delivery that is not restricted to a pandemic situation. There is nothing more safer and simpler for a responsible consumer to opt for getting their favorite tipple home-delivered, instead of going through the trouble of driving, parking, jostling with the crowd. Digital platforms embedded with robust age-validation tools, transparent listing of products category-wise alongside maximum retail price (MRP) will help.
For retailers, digital intermediary platforms that can give them a digital footprint, uphold their unique identity, provide easy-to-use technology to control inventory and last but not the least, allow them to execute the delivery will truly make them ‘self-reliant’ or ‘atmannirbhar’.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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