, Salem, MA


March 12, 2014

House OKs bill to allow earlier Sunday retail alcohol sales


“We have liquor stores that are a matter of feet from the Rhode Island line,” he said.

Liquor store owners have told Howitt they have a rush of people lined up to buy alcohol at noon, before sales die down in the late afternoon. If stores open earlier, owners say they would likely close earlier, he said. This would allow them to keep labor costs the same, and give employees a chance to be home sooner, he added.

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, called the move long overdue.

Massachusetts slowly began phasing in alcohol sales on Sundays more than 20 years ago.

In 1990, alcohol sales were allowed the Sunday immediately preceding Christmas Day and the Sunday immediately following New Year’s Day. Retailers in Middlesex, Worcester or Essex counties operating in communities within 10 miles of the New Hampshire border were also allowed to sell alcohol any Sunday, but not before noon, according to the association. In 1991, Franklin County was added to the list. In October 1992, holiday sales on Sundays started at Thanksgiving, and Berkshire County was added to the list for Vermont border communities.

In November 2003, liquor sales were allowed statewide on Sundays.

Early sales will alleviate some of the frustration consumers feel on Sunday mornings when they are unable to buy everything they need while running errands, Hurst said.

“Why even do it at 10?,” Hurst questioned. “Every other day of the week there is no beginning hour. This is the frustration consumers have.”

Hurst said earlier sales will particularly help convenience stores and grocers that stock alcohol and are already open Sunday mornings.

Poirier said liquor stores and other retailers who sell alcohol are not obligated to open earlier, under the legislation. They would have a choice.

“It is an option. None of these store owners should feel put upon by this,” Poirier said. “We feel very strongly this will be an economic boost to our state.”

“This is really a good thing. Hopefully it will give a boost to both the small package stores and large ones,” Poirier added.

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