The devastating floods and landslides that wrecked the south Indian state of Kerala failed to cast its shadow on liquor sales last month, if the monthly sales are any indication.
Monthly alcohol sales rose by Rs 71 crore to touch Rs 1,229 crore in August, according to the latest statistics released by the State Beverages Corporation (Bevco).
Even while it was raining cats and dogs in the state, most of the liquor outlets remained open, which supported higher sales. However, some Bevco shops in a couple of places could not function for two days, a Manorama report said.
Generally, August and September record highest liquor sales every year due to seasonality. However, this year, there were initial doubts about whether heavy rains could affect sales.
Surging Liquor Sales To Continue
It seems that the surge in sales will continue this month as well due to Onam, the biggest festival in Kerala, with holidays for ten days.
According to official statistics, the rise in annual income from alcohol sales in the state is anywhere between Rs 1,000 crore and Rs 1,500 crore. Alcohol worth Rs 9,878.83 crore was sold in the state so far this year, a marked rise of Rs.637.45 crore against the same period a year ago.
Bevco, the sole distributor of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) in the state, has achieved an all-time record in sales at Rs.14,508.10 crore during the last financial year, up from Rs.12,937.20 crore in the previous year.
Last year's figures also reveal that brandy was the most sought after alcohol beverage among the tipplers, that was followed by rum and vodka. McDowell's Number 1 emerged as the winner in the race as the most sold brand.
The Kerala government, in a move to partly compensate for the loss in the plantation and tourism sector due to the heavy floods last year, had hiked the excise duty on liquor by 0.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent for 100 days during last Onam festival.
Like many other states, the revenue earned by the government by way of liquor sales is the single highest contributor for meeting budget expenditures.
At present, the state operates 306 Bevco outlets and 450 bar hotels with more applications for bars awaiting clearance in various districts before the excise department.
Earlier, the Left-led coalition government had reversed the previous Congress government's decision to shut all bars except those in five-star hotels, as the regime believes in "restraint and not prohibition".
The new policy of the state government allows two and three-star hotels to serve liquor and new bars will be allowed to apply for licenses.