Policy Documents

Research & Commentary: Georgia Sunday Sales Local Option

March 1, 2011

Georgia is one of only three states that prohibit the retail sale of liquor, wine, and beer on Sundays. This limitation on consumer choice costs the state’s coffers millions of dollars in tax revenues every year. Sunday is now the second-busiest shopping day, and consumers who can do so migrate to other states to shop.

With the state facing a budget deficit that could reach $2 billion in fiscal year 2012, it is increasingly important for lawmakers to foster economic growth by expanding markets rather than restricting them through excess regulatory and tax burdens. Studies have shown that giving voters in local communities the option of allowing Sunday sales has consistently led to increases in economic activity and tax revenues.

A 2007 study published in the National Tax Journal found the average state experienced 4.1 percent and 5.2 percent per-capita increases for the sale of beer and spirits, respectively, after the repeal of Sunday sales bans. Repeal could bring Georgia $3 to $5 million in additional tax revenue per year.

Repealing this outdated regulatory obstacle is an effective and economically stimulating way of generating revenue. The status quo leaves on the table millions of dollars in revenues that would be derived from increased economic activity, and it places unreasonable burdens on taxpayers and businesses.

The following documents offer additional information on Sunday liquor sale bans.

Blue Laws: Easing Up on Sunday Liquor Sales
Throwing out Prohibition-era laws means more revenue for states
This article from U.S. News & News Reports looks at the trend of states repealing blue laws and bringing in more tax revenue as a result. It notes, “A recent study found that the dozen states that have recently allowed liquor to be sold on Sundays generate more than $200 million in new state revenue every year.”

The Effect of Sunday Sales of Alcohol on Highway Crash Fatalities
This study by economics professor Mark Stehr finds there is no correlation between repealing Sunday sales of alcohol laws and highway crash fatalities. The study notes that after “drawing upon data from the lower 48 states from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), this paper finds that only the repeal in New Mexico led to an increase in fatalities.”

Sunday Sales and Georgia
This policy analysis by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States projects the fiscal effects that allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia would have on consumers and tax revenues. It estimates allowing the “Sunday sale of spirits would generate between $3.4 and $4.8 million in new tax revenues for the state.”

States OK Sunday Spirits Sales to Increase Tax Revenue, Consumer Convenience
This article from Budget & Tax News examines the positive economic impacts that repealing blue laws has had on states. It notes, “With Sunday now the second-busiest shopping day of the week, states and localities are realizing these outdated Blue Laws no longer have a place in our modern society.”

Will the Recession Doom the Last Sunday Blue Laws?
Time magazine takes a look at the growing trend of states repealing blue laws that date back to colonial times. Auburn University economics professor David Laband says, “States realize that consumers will migrate to a place where they can buy what they want. And whatever their reasons are for not wanting to sell on Sunday, these states realize they’re paying a price for it in foregone tax revenues. So once the economy goes bad, then the cost of their policies [is] apparent to them.”


For further information on this subject, visit The Heartland Institute’s Web site, http://www.heartland.org.

Nothing in this message is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. If you have any questions about this issue or the Heartland Web site, contact Legislative Specialist John Nothdurft at 312/377-4000 or jnothdurft@heartland.org.