About 346,000 bottles (29,000 cases) of imported wines have been sold this year as compared to 194,000 bottles (16,000 cases) in the previous year according to the report in HT today. This was despite the heavy excise duty imposed by Delhi last year which when streamlined this year resulted in even higher duties though some low-end wines saw a minor decrease. The figures are based on the retail at the local excise vends.
The growth has been phenomenal in beer according to the report. This year over a million bottles of imported beer were sold as compared to last year's 656,000 indicating penchant for the denizens for foreign alcoholic beverages, including imported whisky which touched 387,000 bottles compared to 234,000 last year.
"Buying and serving expensive liquor in parties has become a status symbol. The Delhiites' buying capacity is increasing and they don't shy away from spending big bucks on expensive imported liquor," reportedly said a senior excise department official. There are 32 shops in the city which sell imported liquor. Last year, the excise department collected a revenue of Rs 1.24 billion while this figure has gone up to Rs 1.54 billion this year.
According to officials, there has been an increase of close to 17 per cent in the sale of liquor bottles. The overall revenue generation by the department has gone up by 24 per cent. "We are expecting the sales to go up further because of the festive season. Generally, people consume more liquor to beat the cold," added the official. Traditionally, the sale of red wine also goes up during winter. There are a total of 423 government-run, 90 private and 16 mall based liquor outlets in the city.
The increase in sales in Delhi could be also due to stringent measures taken by the Delhi Excise department to prevent leakages into Delhi from Gurgaon where wine and liquor is much cheaper due to practically nil excise duty. Sale of whisky and beer in Gurgaon shows a decrease from 254,000 bottles to 241,000 bottles while beer also shows a decline from 1.027 million to only 860,000. Keeping in tune with less importance given to wine still despite the hype around it, no figures have been presented in the report on wine, although it does mention Sula as the popular wine selling for Rs.550 (presumably average price or that of one undisclosed label since unlike whisky, there are multiple labels in wine and ‘Sula Wine’ does not tell the whole story as a ‘Black Label’).
Keeping in line with our estimates, the report indicates that there has been growth in female drinkers by 30% in Noida. Presence of professionals and call centers which also employ a lot of foreigners has also been responsible for the increase.
If the speculated fall in the customs duty on wine from 150% to 50% from European Union really takes place in the February 2012 meeting, the consumption ought to increase by 200-300% for next year- but it is not certain that the tax cut will be announced at this meet.