Unlike boat cruises, spectator games, matches, outdoor events such as Koroga festival, one type of business that’s remained healthy (potentially booming) amid the coronavirus pandemic is the liquor business. People have been stocking their home-wine cellars as a substitute for the soon-to-be prohibited congregations at entertainment joints, bars and clubs in Kenya. Alcohol is indeed one of humankind’s oldest remedies for anxiety, coronavirus topping the list for nationwide causes of panic and anxiety in 2020.
If you have noticed at your nearest supermarket, Quickmart for instance, it is evident that Kenyans are panicking with all the food hoarding that’s going on. Moreover, another hot commodity is hand sanitizers which has customers buying truckloads of bottles per trolley, some supermarkets restricting purchases to two bottles maximum.
The Wine Story notices that there is also a run for beer and wine, being considered a necessity just like milk, bread and eggs. In the coming days, most Kenyans are going to be sitting at home, watching Netflix, playing video games and drinking alcohol especially with many people reluctant to gather in public places.
Constellation Brands, the American mother-brand that owns Corona beer, issued a statement last month refuting social media claims that its sales were down. In fact, the company insists they remained strong for the month of February 2020 compared to the previous year of February 2019. Drinkers have retained their sense of humor even amid the virus scare, it isn’t hard to see why.
At Galina Kenya, Judy Ngene, CEO, noted that their stocked beer, wine and liquor sales were up across all their shops spread across the country – Thika (Ananas Mall), Thika rd (TRM Mall), Ruiru (Spur Mall), and Nanyuki. “Since Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement in 15th March 2020 on the preventive measures and protocols to be executed to contain the coronavirus, bottles of alcohol keep disappearing from the shelves, a case in point being 50 bottles within one hour of the announcement in their TRM branch. “As customers enter any branch, they use a hand sanitizer before stepping in the store,” Judy said.
These days, it’s not business as usual with most Kenyan employees in liquor stores taking similar precautions, including disinfecting checkout counters and other surfaces and, of course washing their hands. Fortunately for them, most of the now-booming business is predominantly transacted using debit and credit cards or popular mobile money, majorly MPESA.