Sunday Alcohol Sales on the Rise in U.S.

Thirty-six states now allow sale of liquor on Sundays.

Nov. 21, 2010— -- It's getting easier to find a little hair of the dog on Sundays.

More states and communities are allowing Sunday liquor and alcohol sales or moving sales start times to as early as 6 a.m.

Since 2002, 14 states have joined the list of states allowing Sunday sales of distilled spirits, bringing the total to 36, says Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

"Blue laws ... simply don't make sense in today's economy. They inconvenience consumers and deprive states of much-needed tax revenue," she says.

David Laband, an Auburn University economist, says laws limiting Sunday activities began to disappear when many women joined the labor force in the past century. They often are repealed in economic downturns when governments "experience a revenue pinch," he says.

Bruce Beckman, a Downers Grove, Ill., Village Council member, last month voted against allowing establishments that serve food to sell liquor at 9 a.m. Sundays instead of noon. It passed, 4-3.

The "relatively small amount of tax revenue this might generate," he says, isn't as important as using Sunday mornings "for family, going to church ... and not sitting in a bar somewhere."

Carthage, Mo., Mayor Mike Harris last month voted to allow alcohol sales at 9 a.m. Sundays instead of 1 p.m., but he says blue laws "made Sunday more relevant where faith is concerned."


The Michigan Legislature this month approved a bill allowing liquor sales at 7 a.m. -- instead of the current noon start time -- on Sundays.

Businesses that sell alcohol on Sunday mornings will pay $160 for a new license, says Mike Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. He expects a sales uptick will bolster state revenue.

A Massachusetts law that took effect in June allows communities to permit alcohol sales by restaurants, but not package stores, starting at 10 a.m. Sundays instead of noon. At a town meeting Monday, the community decided to authorize selectmen to consider applications for expanded hours.

The change would mean more revenue from a 0.75 percent food and alcohol sales tax, town administrator William Keegan says.

Montgomery County, Md., next week begins a six-month test of Sunday sales of hard liquor at county-owned beer-and-wine stores that are now closed on Sundays, says George Griffin, director of the county's Department of Liquor Control.

"We'll see how much money we make," he says.

An Arizona law that took effect in July allows alcohol sales at 6 a.m. Sundays instead of 10 a.m.

Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grill in Glendale now opens at 8:30 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. on Sundays the NFL's Arizona Cardinals play, manager Scott Waddle says.

"Customers like it that they can get served before 10," he says.