Friday, May 4, 2012

Sunday Alcohol Sales: Hoosiers Now Alone

Connecticut just passed a bill that will allow retail alcohol to be sold in that state on Sundays.  This makes Connecticut the 49th state to allow Sunday alcohol sales.  That's right,'re the last man standing.

Sometimes it's good to be the lone wolf.  When you're blazing new trails or experimenting with a new idea, it is perfectly fine to be the only one doing something.  When you're the last one to move away from an arcane way of doing things, though, it just means you're the slowest to adapt to the future.  It means you are not willing to accept change and head into an inevitable future.

States are designed to compete with each other.  It was built into the design of our country via the Constitution.  When it came to free markets, the constitution supported them at that level.  The states were designed to be able to do pretty much whatever they wanted within a few simple federal guidelines.  By doing this, states would have good reason to come up with new and better ideas for running themselves.  People of a certain philosophy could gather into areas than ran the way they appreciated most.  States that ran the best would be a draw for new citizens.

The exponential growth of the federal government over the years has removed much of that ability for states to compete for the better of us all.  Still, in areas like alcohol sales, the states still have most of the control.  (It should be noted that the drinking age is not one of those areas.  While states officially can determine their own drinking age, the feds play a funding game with them that says if a state has a drinking age lower than 21, then they get less money.)

The biggest fighters of Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana may not be who you would think: liquor stores.  Liquor stores despise the idea of Sunday sales.  They believe many of them may go out of business if Sunday sales are allowed.

How does that work?  Well, in Indiana we're so accustomed to not being able to buy alcohol on Sunday that we go out on Saturday and get our "Sunday beer."  On Sunday, the liquor stores are closed for business.  No staff to pay.  No lights to turn on.  The furnace or air conditioner can be turned down for the day.

If Sunday sales are allowed, though, liquor stores will have a choice to make.  First, they can keep their bills the way they currently are by just being closed on Sunday.  But, since Sunday sales are available, they will probably lose their "Sunday beer" business on Saturdays to stores that are open Sundays.

If the liquor store opens up on Sunday, they'll have to pay the extra money for staff and lights, etc. But, since we've been so accustomed to getting "Sunday beer," then a lot of the Sunday revenue will not be increased sales, but just sales that shifted to Sunday from Saturday.

Plus, major retailers like Wal-Mart and CVS that are already open Sunday will now be able to sell alcohol on that day.  Unlike the liquor stores, though, there will not be an additional cost for them to do so.  They are already open Sundays, and thus already have a staff on duty, the lights on, and the temperature set.  There is no additional cost for them.

Yes, if Sunday sales are legalized here in the Hoosier State, some liquor stores may close.  Most, though, will still be there just as they are today.  It's the economics of a free market.  Not every business should stay open forever.  Inevitably, times change, and some grow from change while others stay still or go away.

Will Sunday sales potentially hurt some people?  Yes.  There's not a law you can enact that won't.  It's time for Indiana to get it together, though, and join the rest of the country in the 21st century on this issue.  It's time for Indiana to no longer be the last one grasping to the past.  It's time for Indiana to allow Sunday alcohol sales.

(And Sunday car sales, too...but that's another story.)

1 comment:

  1. This is an embarrassing distinction that marks Indiana as a backwards state.

    Indiana gets the laws the lobbyists buy, and this law benefits restaurants by giving them a guaranteed economic rent one day a week.