Friday Question of the Day – Should Liquor Stores Be Allowed to Sell on Sundays? (reader request)

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A reader sends in this news from the Washington Post:

D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said today he is likely to recommend allowing Sunday sales for holders of Class A (liquor store) licenses as part of the city budget. The additional $710,000 in sales tax revenue that would be generated by dropping the restriction would go some way toward the $3.2 million Graham needs to find to kill Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s proposal to extend bar hours as late as 4 a.m.

In late March we discussed whether or not bars should be allowed to stay open an hour later. How about Sunday liquor sales?

Do you think liquor stores should be allowed to sell liquor on Sundays? If so, should there be any restrictions? Do you think this is a good way for the District to raise revenue?


51 Comment

  • It won’t raise revenue, people will buy on Saturday or Monday. Just like prohibiting something temporarily doesn’t decrease demand, it just shifts it – allowing something more often doesn’t increase demand, it just spreads it out.

    I’m against it for the simple reason that Sunday is the one day that homeless people across the city aren’t loitering outside all the liquor stores. It doesn’t inconvenience me, since I know to buy ahead or travel to MD in a pinch.

    • I thought MD had the same laws – no liquor on sundays. I’ve googled a few times when i’ve been in a sunday pinch (mad men parties, of course) and thought they also had no liquor sales on Sunday.

      • Some PG County stores sell beer and wine on Sundays. I think Anne Arundel and Howard County stores can sell liquor on Sundays.

      • MD liquor laws are generally on a county by county basis, but it is a state law that no liquor sales can take place in early morning hours (not sure exactly what hours, b/c some counties are different than others), and no hard liquor sales, and perhaps no alcohol sales of any kind, can take place before noon on Sunday.

        • I once bought a bottle of bourbon on a Sunday morning at a liquor store near the Laurel race track. This store used to be open seven days a week. It closed at 2 AM and opened at 5 AM. It’s still there, but the hours may have changed (this was like 20 years ago.)

    • “it won’t raise revenue, people will buy on Saturday or Monday.”

      “I know to . . . travel to MD in a pinch.”

      • I see what you’re trying to do there.

        Pinches dont raise revenue. Thats the point.

        • well the point is you aggragate that behavior accross an entire city, and it probably does raise revenue. Also consider those people that live close to the MD border

    • I like this reasoning. Sunday – a good day for the homeless and vagrants to sober up. Everyone ought to take a day off once in a while.

  • He wants to allow liquor sales on Sunday to raise revenue to kill a bill allowing bars to stay open later? What is the point of that?

    • I think the idea was that having liquor stores be open on Sundays wouldn’t have downsides, whereas having bars open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays would have distinct downsides: Metro not being open correspondingly later, and thus the risk of more drunks on the roads; increased quality-of-life issues for neighbors (noise, litter, lack of parking); etc.

  • Thumbs down!

  • Coming from a place that does sell liquor on Sundays, honestly I don’t see the issue with selling it on Sundays. Just observe “blue” laws that have the liquor store open later and closer earlier. Sheesh, why is this even an issue?

  • squish

    I would say yes, with a limit on the opening hours–11 am to 4 pm or something like that.

  • It was done purely for religous reasons – and by religous I mean Christian. So in fareness to all religions I say open up Sunday sales or stop Friday and Saturday sales as well.

  • brookland_rez

    Absolutely. I hate running out of beer and finding that the liquor store is closed for sales and having to run to VA to get some.

  • I already voted “Yes” on the survey, but would have chosen “Absolutely 100% Definitely YES” if that had been a choice. There’s no legitmate reason to prohibit Sunday sales, and if it’s a trade-off between later bar closing times and Sunday sales, that’s OK with me too. (BTW, I live in a neighborhood with lots of liquor stores and bars, so I am not casually creating problems for neighborhoods away from me, and no I am not addicted to alcohol which makes me need 7-day access. I just don’t like the remants of puritanical ideals.)

  • What exactly is the argument against selling liquor on Sundays?

  • thebear

    Absolutely allow Sunday sales. Even as a Catholic, I am staunchly opposed to the government being used to enforce religious doctrine on the general public. If the various faiths cannot keep their followers from buying booze or having abortions or loving others of the same gender, then they need to look at what they are doing wrong that is causing the disconnect…they have no right to impose laws on everyone else to preserve or protect their “moral authority” for them.

    • +1. Separation of church and state. Both our lawmakers and these churches need to look that up.

    • “even as a catholic” what does that mean? Catholics are the biggest boozers of them all.

      Blame the baptists, methodists, and nonEpiscopalians for blue laws

      • Cheers!

        And, really, all this reactionary BS about church/state. A good idea is a good idea is a good idea. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Take a day off.

        • Except this is an idea, that came about because of religion (and backed by corporations). Trying to deny that truth doesn’t make the truth a lie.

          Yes, I think I should be able to purchase alchohol on a sunday.

  • If bars and restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays, the stores should as well.

  • would love to hear the free-market capitalists/religous zealots try to make sense of these laws

  • halfsmoke

    nothing worse then turning on the redskins, then realizing you are out of Jim Beam.

  • I’m assuming that there is no sale on Sunday due to religious reasons…but as an avid church-goer I say “why not?”

    And while we’re at it: MoCo, can we PUH-LEASE start selling alcohol in the grocery stores???

  • m_i_z_dc

    Um, yes. I don’t even think it will create more revenue (I agree with the comment above that when you take something away temporarily, demand is just shifted).

    But this is 100% a leftover of religion shaping law, and that has no place in society.

    If there is some other reason to not sell liquor on one day of the week, I say we move that day to Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Not the Christian day of rest. (this, of course, would never happen, because, well, this is 100% tied to religion).

  • On what principle are -most- of you basing your disdain for not selling liquor on Sundays?

    In other words:
    Why not have have the liquor stores open 24 hours?
    And- Seven Days a week?
    And- allow it to open across the street from your home?

    I have no further questions.

    • What a silly slippery slope argument. No one is arguing for NO restrictions on the sale of liquor, just that the current restriction banning sales on Sundays is too burdensome for law abiding folks who just want to pick up a bottle on their day off. It’s about where to draw the line, not about whether there should be a line at all. Jeez…

      • Jeez. I personally don’t think the slope is that slippery.

        You -seem- to be against this law because it is too “burdensome” for you: a law abiding person who wants to pick-up liquor on Sunday.

        Now that’s a slippery slope!

        • I don’t follow. You seem to be arguing that if you support Sunday sales, there is no reasoning that would allow you to oppose 24-hour sales, liquor stores opening wherever they want, etc., etc. That’s a slippery slope. All I’m saying is that reasonable people can support Sunday sales while still seeing a reason to oppose 24-hour sales, sales to minors, or whatever else you think this will lead to.

          • What I’m trying to say is: There are externalities involved. Let the people who don’t want the externalities of having liquor sales on Sundays have it. It doesn’t inconvenience me THAT much.

            I’m just surprised at all the outrage from commenters on this blog because they can’t buy a bottle of liquor on a Sunday… because they think it’s a silly law because of a larger argument about chruch and state.

            The reasons why -some- people may continue to support this restriction are VERY SIMILAR to the reasons why -some- may not want liquor sales all day/every day across the street.

            In other words, if I lived in a world where responsible drinkers and other positive society-contributors were the only people who needed/wanted to buy liquor- and the liquor stores looked like my summer home in the Hamptons, and the only people that hung around the liquor stores looked like those cute little ducklings from afternoon animal fix…. well, then I would think it was silly too.

            I also wouldn’t mind if there was a heavy concentration of liquor stores in my neighborhood.

  • austindc

    Restricting sales on Sunday is a really good idea if we are trying to keep people who are bad at planning ahead from getting drunk on Sunday.

  • Eh, it gives some people a chance to sober up but whatev, if you need to get wasted there’s always cheap beer and wine at every other grocery store. Honestly the people who own the liquor stores are usually all family members and work their butts off. I like the fact that they get a day to relax (which is still probably spent doing inventory or something)

  • Separation of church and state please. Liquor/alcohol should be sold on Sundays just like every other day of the week. It’s just like the old blue laws in VA.

  • vestiges of blue laws should be removed. I’ve never understood the purpose of limiting Sun. sales for liquor stores, especially when bars and restaurants have a free hand. Aside from being a nuisance to consumers and an arbitrary measure of temperance (holla’ back sabbath keepers), it also discriminates against legal imbibers who do not wish (or are able) to purchase from bars and restaurants.

  • The picture is of Viggy Liquor’s on 15th st ne. They have been closed since the beginning of the year. does anyone know what is going on with Viggys?

  • Hellz to the yes. Beer and wine are fine but when else but on Sunday do I have time to savor a good Wild Turkey and ginger ale? What is this, Lancaster County? Hate spending my vice tax dollars out of state.

  • A new development with this issue: Jim Graham is no longer supporting alcohol sales on Sunday, proposing an increase in the excise tax instead.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/mike-debonis/post/graham-no-longer-keen-on-sunday-liquor-store-sales/2012/04/30/gIQA3XtxrT_blog.html

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