India. ‘Panic buying’ lifts Tasmac sales

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In the days preceding the elections, outlets of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Ltd (Tasmac) witnessed ‘panic buying’ across all regions in the State on fears of imminent prohibition.

Even little-known brands, which would not sell on normal days, flew off the shelves in the last one week.

Statistics collated from Tasmac retail outlets in the State show that before May 16, the polling day, sales totalled Rs. 80-90 crore per day.

“Tipplers were worried that there might be an immediate ban on liquor once the new government came in and there was an unusual crowd at all outlets including places like Madurai and Coimbatore,” said a Tasmac Union member, on conditions of anonymity. “Sales were abnormally high is some major outlets. In summer, beer is the most preferred drink. But this one week, other products were also in demand,” he added.

On May 18, sales went up to Rs. 100 crore, and post the results, which were announced on May 19, sales dipped. On May 20, Tasmac sold liquor worth Rs. 68 crore.

“On May 20, sales skid again after news of the AIADMK returning to power. Customers who walked in asked what would happen to the outlets before they paid their bills at the counter,” said the Manager of a Tasmac outlet in T. Nagar.

Both the Dravidian parties – the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – had used prohibition as their main plank in the just-concluded election.

While DMK leader M. Karunanidhi had said that there would be total prohibition if his party was elected to power, his arch rival and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa had promised phased prohibition.

Estimates indicate that on an average, Tasmac, the cash cow of the State, sells liquor worth Rs. 66 crore through its over 6,000 outlets.

About 70 lakh people, about 10 per cent of the population, buy liquor at these outlets everyday, sources said.

On an average, Tasmac outlets sell liquor worth Rs. 66 crore every day