Sunday Alcohol Sales (Part 2)

Sunday Alcohol SalesEarlier this week, we began looking at states’ blue laws and their impact on the ability (or inability) to purchase off-premise alcohol on a Sunday. (See Sunday Alcohol Sales, Part 1.)

The argument made in the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) legislative initiative is that Sunday alcohol sales provide customer convenience since greater and greater numbers of people are shopping on Sundays. DISCUS also contends that states would benefit from Sunday alcohol sales: “Currently, the combination of high excise taxes and limited shopping opportunities depress state liquor store sales. Many potential customers either do not buy at all, or simply make their purchases in neighboring states that do allow Sunday sales.”

More Cash for States

Allowing Sunday alcohol sales translates to an increase in sales volume that subsequently means additional profits for the state’s liquor business and increased tax revenue.

States that are facing tough economic times are pushing back on the moral objections regarding Sunday alcohol sales and looking at it as an opportunity for greater tax revenues, according to NPR’s “Strapped States Look to Alcohol for Shot of Cash.”

Advocates of repealing blue laws that restrict off-premise sale of alcohol on Sundays insist the ban is anti-competitive and unfair to an entire industry as other blue laws regarding general retail sales and commercial business to occur on Sundays have long gone by the wayside.

Indiana has the most stringent restrictions regarding Sunday alcohol sales: the sale of beer, wine, and liquor is prohibited at grocery and package liquor stores. However, a change to that law may be in the offing. According to IndyStar’sIs there a change brewing for Sunday alcohol sales?,” a change in leadership in a key Indiana House committee might be exactly what those licensed to sell off-premise need.

Rep. Tom Dermody was appointed to chair the House Public Policy Committee that is the starting point for alcohol-related legislation in that state. Dermody hasn’t made any decisions; however, his predecessor previously refused to even put the measure up for a committee vote.

Other Opposition

In some states, the opposition to Sunday alcohol sales came from owners of package stores themselves. Part of that opposition in Indiana was rooted in the difference in restrictions between grocers, retailers, and convenience stores and package stores. A package store cannot even admit a customer under 21 years of age and employees must be specially trained and licensed – a restriction not placed on other retailers potentially giving them an unfair (or at least less costly) advantage.

In New York, when the blue law repeal push began in the early 2000s, liquor store owner, Steve Glamuzina opposed it. Quoted in the NPR article he said, “I was like, absolutely not. I don’t think it was fear of competition; it was based on concerns about losing sales revenue with an extra day of business.”

Glamuzina’s opposition changed after the law was repealed in 2006, saying, “I was blown away when we opened on Sunday. It’s still the only day of the week when I have a line of people at the door for us to open.” That reaction and result may soften others’ opposition to Sunday alcohol sales as well.

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  2. […] laws on its books. We mentioned that state’s stringent restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales (see Sunday Alcohol Sales Part 2); however, other alcohol laws in that state are equally […]