Economic arguments on both sides of the Sunday sales debate

February 4th, 2013 at 4:35 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The biggest fight of the week in the Indiana General Assembly is the upcoming battle over Sunday liquor sales.  A few things have changed since the issue was last considered starting with the fact that, while 12 states still ban alcohol sales altogether on Sunday, Indiana is now the last state where you can get a drink in a bar or restaurant, but you can’t take it home.

That’s why Shelbyville Republican Sean Eberhart is seeking change.  “I think it’s a silly argument that we allow it to be consumed and then allow people to drive home,” says Rep. Eberhart, “but we don’t allow people to take it home and more safely consume it.”

Many consumers don’t understand, but liquor store owners don’t want change.  “Our argument is not a soundbite argument,” says Ray Cox of Elite Beverages. “It’s not as easy as “convenience” and “why not?’”  They say Sunday sales would put some of them out of business and cost jobs.  They believe the public is on their side.  “We would become one of 5 or 6 states in the country which would have the most liberal alcohol laws,” says lobbyist John Livengood, “and we know that’s not what Hoosier voters want.”

On the other side of the argument are the big box stores and grocery stores who are open 7 days a week.  “Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week,” says Grant Monahan of the Indiana Retail Council.  “People want to do all of their shopping at one time.  They want the convenience of that.”

The arguments will be made in a House committee hearing on Wednesday.  Also new this year is the fact that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce is weighing in.  It now supports Sunday sales and the conglomerates who are seeking the change.  They believe that jobs are lost when thousands of Hoosiers go to surrounding states to make Sunday purchases.

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