The Blogster personally believes that if you’re in a panic on a Sunday because you didn’t plan well enough on Saturday, maybe you should ease back and assess your lifestyle.
But far be it from me to be judgmental. And indeed, following Saturday’s story in the Connecticut Post about how Sunday sales might become part of the eventual state budget, there’s more rumblings today about how its chances are increasing.
Massachusetts recently enacted a new 6.25-percent tax on alcohol, which Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, believes could actually help Sunday sales in Connecticut, where the sales tax is 6 percent.
“I understand why package store owners in the heart of the state wouldn’t want to be open on Sunday, because historically they didn’t have to worry about it,” Kissel said. “They may not want to work as many hours. But up along the border, many of my package stores clearly want to compete with package stores in Massachusetts.”
Kissel and other supporters of Sundays sales say that in the secular, 21st-century Connecticut, Sunday has become the second-busiest shopping day of the week and it’s a far cry from the colonial era, when work was prohibited on the Sabbath.
Vestiges of blue laws held on through the 1980s, when auto dealers were prevented from opening on Sundays. Finally, in 1994, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the auto dealers.
Kissel, a lawyer who’s the ranking member of the legislative Judiciary Committee, said the issue of Sunday sales seems ripe for another case.
“My guess is that if package stores went to court, I think they’d have a strong chance for reversal, especially since there is no overall state policy,” Kissel said, noting that bars and restaurants can sell drinks and wine on Sunday.
“I think politically it makes sense,” he said. “My understanding is the general public favors Sunday sales.”
Douglas Schwartz, the director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, recalls that a March poll of statewide voters found Sunday sales are favored 54-44 percent.
“It’s not a huge majority but it is a majority,” Schwartz said. But 58 percent oppose selling wine or beer in grocery stores.
Under the legislation that died in February, after 100 store owners flooded the hall outside the House and Rell’s office, stores would have the option of opening on Sunday and closing another day of the week.
Kissel, recalling the budget battle of 2003 in which lawmakers took until August to agree on a budget that had a mere billion-dollar deficit, said Sunday sales in Rhode Island and Delaware have resulted in millions of dollars in additional revenue in those small states.
“At the end of the day this budget battles is going to be so ugly, Sunday sales and a possible $20 million in additional tax revenue can be more attractive,” Kissel said.
Last week Gov. Jodi Rell’s Capitol spokesman, Chris Cooper, said the governor’s legislative liaison and legal counsel recently met with package store owners. But at this point, as budget talks languish, the governor is concentrating more on spending cuts than new revenue sources.
“We’re in 2009 and we need to be competitive,” Kissel said. “My package stores think they can make some money.”
“Business is dropping and the last thing you want to do is increase the cost of retailing,” said Carroll Hughes, lobbyist for the 600-member package store owners association who opposed the proposal. “Staying open an additional day would increase costs without increasing business. Everyone’s reducing their costs. Stores are closing in malls. Sunday sales would only benefit big-box stores, which is where people are on Sunday.”