Retailers expect to be hit hard by curbs

Retailers expect to be hit hard by curbs
A customer buying liquor at Min Sheng He in Geylang (above). The alcohol-dense area had 183 liquor licences per sq km in 2013, and many shops can sell alcohol until midnight. The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill will stop shops from selling alcohol after 10.30pm, and shop owners interviewed are bracing themselves for potential losses.

SINGAPORE - Shop owners braced themselves for potential losses, as news of the new alcohol restrictions reverberated through the streets of Geylang.

The Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Bill introduced in Parliament yesterday would mean that shops can sell take- away alcohol only until 10.30pm.

But Geylang retailers will be hit doubly hard if the Bill is passed – a large swathe of the area is slated to be a Liquor Control Zone, where there will be further restrictions similar to those in place in Little India following the riot on Dec 8, 2013.

In Little India now, licensed shops can sell alcohol only up to 8pm on weekends, public holidays and the eve of public holidays.

The alcohol-dense Geylang had 183 liquor licences per sq km in 2013, and many shops can sell alcohol until midnight.

All 10 retailers in Geylang contacted by The Straits Times said that most of their alcohol sales occur within those last few hours between 9pm and midnight.

Foreign workers, who make up the bulk of their customers, typically return to their dormitories after work to freshen up and have dinner before heading out for a drink later in the evening.

Mr Deen Malim, 48, the owner of Alfa’s Minimart in Geylang, is certain that this is the death knell.

“It’s bad, it’s very bad news,” he said, adding that alcohol sales make up half of his revenue, and that sales of other items like snacks will also be affected. “This will kill us. Can the Government help us in any way? I don’t know where to go, what to do.”

He had just renewed his rental contract for another two years last August, and pays himself a salary of slightly over $1,000 a month – the only profit he makes, he said.

His sentiments echo those of Mr Junaid Abdul Kader, 70, the owner of a provision shop nearby.

Alcohol sales make up 70 per cent of his revenue. “Actually now, I am only just maintaining. I have to close down my shop.”

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