Who's Afraid of Sunday Liquor Sales?

A blog about business and economics.
June 16 2012 10:25 AM

Who's Afraid of Sunday Liquor Sales?

Bourbon in Decatur, Georgia.

Wikimedia commons

Business groups often oppose regulations designed to force them to avoid imposing public health, safety, or pollution externalities on others. But in many other circumstances, existing businesses are well-adapted to the existing regulatory framework and oppose efforts to loosen things up. One examples comes from right here in Washington, DC where the city council has been sporadically considering the idea of allowing liquor stores to sell booze on Sunday.

The basic thought is that this would raise tax revenue without forcing the council to actually raise taxes, thus providing a relatively painless way for the city to avoid cuts in social services.


What’s more, it’s not as if existing public policy reflects some kind of principled religion-driven opposition to booze on Sundays. Supermarkets and corner stores are allowed to sell beer and wine on Sundays. Appropriately licensed bars and restaurants serve liquor seven days a week. And of course people who planned ahead are allowed to drink liquor in their own homes whenever they want. By the same token, the rule provides so many ways to get your drink on that it hardly seems like a meaningful deterrent to alcoholism. It is, instead, a minor inconvenience that produces a minor decline in overall economic activity and thus a minor decline in tax revenue.

The locus of opposition to changing the rule, meanwhile, turns out to be liquor store owners themselves. Their feeling, basically, is that while the no-Sunday-sales rule produces some actual reduction in total liquor sales it also simply displaces some sales to Saturdays and Mondays. By permitting Sunday sales, stores would essentially either have to stay open on Sunday or else risk losing sales to other stores who open on Sunday. That means longer workweeks for store owners.

It’s a very understandable impulse. A rule against writing blog posts outside the hours of 9AM-5PM from Monday to Friday would, similarly, make life easier for me. No more rushing a quick take on a prime time presidential debate or speech and then still needing to wake up the next morning to cover the news.   

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.