Photo by Sarah Finnegan.
Since the vote to allow Sunday alcohol sales passed in Shelby County back in March 2016, local package stores and restaurants have seen a bump in sales.
Last March, Shelby County voters went to the polls and voiced their thoughts on whether or not to allow people to buy alcoholic beverages on Sunday afternoons. About 70 percent of voters, or around 43,000 people, voted in favor of a local amendment allowing sales after noon on Sunday.
Since the amendment went into effect on March 13, some restaurants and businesses have seen positive results from the change.
Laura Strong, general manager of Big Bad Breakfast, said she has noticed patrons of the restaurant taking advantage of the new law. Big Bad Breakfast has seen an increase in alcohol sales of about $700 every Sunday, she said.
“It helps our lunch, most definitely,” Strong said. “We get more people now, and sales went up a lot.”
Pink Package Store owner Joe Rueschenberg had to hire more employees to handle the influx of customers trickling in on Sundays. He no longer has any days off, but he said he isn’t complaining.
“There’s really no downside to it as of yet,” Rueschenberg said. “Our sales are up because we are open four more days every month.”
In addition to being able to create more jobs, Rueschenberg said he is generating more tax for the community and is working harder than ever. He said Sunday has become Pink Package Store’s third busiest day of the week — if not second — and he said they are open four or five fewer hours than other operating days.
While it is difficult to have an exact number on sales increases per day, Butch Burbage, chief financial officer for Shelby County, said he believes Sunday alcohol sales more than likely have benefited the county.
“In total, it has been a benefit, but it is hard to quantify that,” he said. “Restaurants report total sales, not food sales versus liquor sales — it’s combined. Overall, we have seen an increase [in revenue], but it is hard to give hard and fast numbers.”
Burbage said he believes the increase in sales to be relatively modest — about a 3 to 4 percent increase — but he added it is difficult to measure because of how sales are reported.
“We don’t have it broken down by days of the week,” Burbage said. “We report total sales for the month.”
Burbage said that, instead of a spike in sales on Friday and Saturday, sales are slightly more spread out now to include Sunday revenue. One area he said he has seen a more noticeable increase in revenue in is chain restaurants.
“Particularly chain restaurants seem to have increased a little bit,” he said. “I don’t know how much it is weekend alcohol sales or just the economy being good and people eating out again. I have had discussions with local leaders, and they are seeing a larger increase in sales — people are coming through, eating out, and they do want to enjoy some kind of alcoholic beverage [with their meal].”