Liquor Laws Increase Sales in Ohio, New York, and Delaware

Published August 1, 2004

Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R) signed into law on June 17 a bill rolling back the state’s ban on Sunday liquor sales. The law became effective immediately.

Senate Bill 164, sponsored by State Sen. Robert Schuler (R-Sycamore Township), allows liquor license holders to apply for amendments that would permit the Sunday sales. Those businesses must be operating in communities where voters have passed ordinances allowing Sunday sales for bars and restaurants.

Ohio’s ban on Sunday liquor sales, which dated back to the Prohibition era, allowed consumers to buy no alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine on Sundays.

“This new law will bring consumers more choices and greater convenience,” said Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), the trade association for the nation’s distillers.

Boost for Business

According to the Cincinnati Post, “Local store owners said Sunday liquor sales would boost their businesses by providing a much-needed advantage over liquor retailers in neighboring areas of Kentucky and Indiana, where liquor sales are not allowed on Sunday.”

“Wouldn’t that be a switch,” said Mike Hayes, owner of Hyde Park Wine and Spirits. “I think it will really help border cities around the state.”

Danny Shaeena of Rocket Carryout told Toledo’s WTVG news, “I think this will help business, to be honest with you. This should have been passed a long time ago. Everyone crosses over into Michigan to buy their liquor. They might as well just buy it here in Ohio.”

According to a DISCUS economic analysis, Sunday liquor sales could generate between $9.2 and $15.1 million in new state revenue if all stores that are eligible under the law open for sales on Sundays.

Ohio became the 31st state–and the ninth in the past two years–to permit Sunday liquor sales. Sunday sales are already legal in Michigan.

“States across the country are modernizing their outdated liquor laws as a way to benefit consumers while at the same time raising much-needed tax revenue,” Cressy noted.

Other States Report Gains from Sunday Liquor Sales

Sales of distilled spirits increased by 10 percent in New York and Delaware in the first year the two states have allowed Sunday sales. “The revenue figures support the overwhelming positive response from consumers, small business owners, and analysts who say Sunday sales are a huge success,” stated Cressy.

On May 15, 2003, both states rolled back Prohibition-era bans on spirits sales. Delaware allowed its liquor stores to open seven days a week, and New York allowed storeowners to choose which six days of the week they would be open for business.

In New York, Steve Glamuzina, president of the Empire State Liquor Store Association, said he is getting “very positive feedback from his members who have decided to open on Sunday.” According to Glamuzina, Sunday sales have been so successful for retailers and the state that legislators are now considering whether to allow full seven-day sales.

“Sales and tax revenue would increase further if retailers were allowed to open every day of the week,” said Glamuzina, who owns Georgetown Square Wine and Liquor in Williamsville, New York. “It’s a matter of convenience for our shoppers. People want the freedom to shop when they can, and the marketplace should be able to accommodate that.”

Jim Mackenzie, owner of Wine World in Amherst, New York, reported that stores in his area have also experienced a boost in business from Sunday sales. “It has been a boon for our business and for other stores near mine,” said Mackenzie. “We used to be open 12 hours on Tuesdays, but I gave that up to open just five hours on Sundays, and we’re doing twice as much business as we were on Tuesday. We have been very pleased with the results.”

In New York City, Darrin Siegfried, owner of Red, White, and Bubbly, in Brooklyn, chose at first not to open on Sundays but reversed his decision when he realized Sunday business was successful and better for his customers.

“Fantastic Success”

“We decided to try opening on Sundays because our customers come first, and that’s when they do their shopping,” Siegfried said. “We have only been open on Sundays for about a month, and already we’re doing more business on Sunday than we were on Tuesday, the day we now have to close.”

Delaware businesses, now allowed to open seven days a week, also report increased sales.

“It has been a fantastic success,” said David Trone, owner of Total Wine & More in Milltown and Claymont, Delaware. “Most retailers here have chosen to be open, and the state is reporting double-digit sales increases.”

Spirits wholesaler Christopher Tigani said he now employs six additional full-time Delaware workers because of increased Sunday sales business.

“Sunday sales in Delaware have far surpassed my expectations,” said Tigani, executive vice president of NKS Distributors. “Our customers are pleased by the convenience, and local businesses are pleased consumers are now staying in Delaware to buy their products instead of crossing state lines.”

Lisa Hawkins is vice president for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. She can be reached via the group’s Web feedback form at