November 18, 2004

Sunday Shopping

By Kevin

A limited number of blue laws still prevent Americans from specific economic exchanges on Sunday--especially liquor purchases. In Virginia, the General Assembly accidentally removed exemptions from the "day of rest" blue law for 12 days this year; also, good luck trying to buy a car on Sunday, as blue laws have caused a unique coordination failure:

Come to Honda City on Saturday or Monday, Eubank said, but not on Sunday. Shop online 24 hours a day, he said. All you have to do is visit the Web site to see what's in stock. You can even figure out the value of your trade-in with the Kelley Blue Book on the Web, on a Sunday. But whatever you do, don't expect to find a salesman on the lot on that day.

When I called David Reynolds at Alexandria Toyota, he assured me that you can bet on the dealership being open every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. "It's customer service, 100 percent," he said. "They expect to be able to shop on Sunday. It can be a busy day for us."

Only a few minutes later, Pohanka Chevrolet in Chantilly was telling me that they are open only two Sundays a month -- the last two -- in an effort to satisfy both customers and employees who need a day off.

On it went: Fairfax Jeep, closed. Fairfax Honda, open.

Wikipedia has some general historical context:

The term blue law was first used by Reverend Samuel Peters in his book General History of Connecticut, which was first published in 1781, to refer to various laws first enacted by Puritan colonies in the 17th century which prohibited the selling of certain types of merchandise and retail or business activity of any kind on certain days of the week (usually Sunday). In Texas, for example, blue laws prohibited selling housewares such as pots, pans, and washing machines on Sunday until 1985; Texas car dealerships continue to operate under blue-law prohibitions. Many U.S. Southern states still prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday. Many unusual features of American culture — such as the fact that one can buy groceries, office supplies, and housewares from a drug store — are the result of blue laws, as drug stores were generally allowed to remain open on Sunday to accommodate emergency medical needs.
The Columbia Encyclopedia has a similar entry, with smoother writing.. You might be glad to know that blue laws are on the decline in the US. :
"The lifting of blue laws, in their own way, seems to de-emphasize religion, as well as close family, community, and neighborhood ties," says David Laband, an economics and policy professor at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., and author of "Blue Laws: The History, Economics and Politics of Sunday-Closing Laws." "It is part of a broader social and cultural trend toward isolation."

To be sure, recent repeals are the consequence of state budget gaps, not a simple relaxation of the nation's moral code.... New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have also lifted regulations on Sunday alcohol sales [last] year, with the aim of raising tax revenues.

"The states are in their worst fiscal shape in recent history," says Frank Coleman, senior vice president of the Washington-based Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. The national trade association estimates that sales in Massachusetts could generate $1.5 million to $2.1 million in new tax revenue for the state.

Well, the Swiss were following us along into greater "isolation", but free-shoppers have run into opposition:
Presenting its case to the media in Bern on Thursday, campaigners said allowing shops at major railway stations and airports to remain open on Sundays would neither increase sales nor bring any benefits for shop employees.

The launch of the campaign comes less than two months after parliament came out in favour of relaxing the country’s strict Sunday trading restrictions.

Opponents have attacked the proposal, arguing that it will only serve to redistribute trade over seven days instead of six.

“Each Swiss franc can only be spent once,” said committee member and Social Democrat parliamentarian, Alain Berset.

Unions are concerned that people might not be paid for working on Sunday.

My Take: I can't do better than commenter Nicole on this post: "i think that blue laws suck and they are dumb" Granted, reasonable people may differ.

Posted at November 18, 2004 12:13 PM


Indiana has one of my favorites. It's illegal to buy beer, wine, or liquor in a store to take home to drink on Sunday, but you can buy beer, wine, and liquor in bars and restaurants. So far as I can tell, the state of Indiana promotes public drunkenness and drunk driving.

Comment by Donald A. Coffin at November 18, 2004 04:40 PM | Permalink

"Each Swiss franc can only be spent once,” said committee member and Social Democrat parliamentarian, Alain Berset."

there is a man faking any economist can (and will) tell you each franc is spent mulitple times a year and taxed each time..

Comment by e m butler at November 20, 2004 07:18 AM | Permalink

Post a Comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style):

Note: You may have to reload to see your comment.

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: