Our View: Time for full Sunday sales

Published 12:34 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

The Winchester Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday evening to have city staff draft an ordinance for a vote that would allow microbreweries, distilleries, wineries and like businesses to sell alcohol on Sundays.

We support the expansion of Sunday alcohol sales in the city of Winchester to include these businesses, which are growing and expanding in our community.

We also support further expanding local Sunday alcohol sales to include all retailers — like gas stations, liquor stores, box stores, etc.

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Expanding Sunday alcohol sales to include microbreweries, distilleries and wineries in the city creates an even playing field for businesses that serve alcohol. If the city is going to permit sales at restaurants and other establishments (which only have to prove 70 percent of their sales come from food to be able to serve alcohol on Sundays), it should also permit such sales at all businesses that serve alcohol by the drink.

By expanding to include these businesses, the city could capitalize on the growing trend in tourism geared around these establishments, and would fall in line with a similar ordinance passed a year ago that allows such sales in the county.

By continuing to limit Sunday alcohol sales in our community, we are missing out on valuable revenue and potential visitors to our community.

Many potential customers to these businesses find themselves traveling around the state on the weekend, and miss out on the opportunity to visit and spend their money in our community when they are closed on Sundays.

Clark County is losing valuable revenue to neighboring communities by prohibiting the sale of alcohol by retailers on Sundays.

According to local ordinances, distilled spirits and wine can be sold between 8 a.m. and midnight Monday through Thursday and between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Malt beverages can be sold between 6 a.m. and midnight Monday through Thursday and between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Local ordinance also states, “In accordance with KRS 244.290(4), a licensee for the sale of distilled spirits, wine and/or malt beverage by the drink shall be permitted to sell or dispense alcoholic beverages on Sunday between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“Provided, further, for distilled spirits, wine and/or malt beverage licensee by the drink for consumption on the premises on New Year’s Eve until 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, regardless of the day of the week January 1 shall falls upon, provided that the appropriate licenses and approvals have been obtained from both the city and the state ABC board.”

By prohibiting Sunday alcohol sales, the city is forcing customers to drive to a neighboring community to make their purchases.

In Fayette County, alcohol sales are permitted on Sundays. In other nearby communities, like Richmond and Mount Sterling, sales are allowed by the drink in restaurants but packaged sales are not permitted.

With such a close proximity to Lexington, Winchester is losing thousands of dollars in revenue each year from the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays.

A quick drive over the county line, and Winchester residents can purchase alcohol at any gas station, liquor store or other retailer in Fayette County.

And while those residents are purchasing alcohol in Fayette County, they are more likely to stop and eat there, do some shopping there, purchase gas there and more, driving even more potential revenue from our community.

Locally, it seems pointless to ban the sale of package alcoholic beverages on Sunday while allowing drinks to be served in restaurants, sports bars and pubs.

Communities in other parts of the country have reaped the benefits of legalizing Sunday alcohol sales, and Winchester could too.

A recent report published in The Times of Northwest Indiana revealed legalizing Sunday alcohol sales in Indiana has increased revenue for retailers and the state. In March 2018, Indiana “became the last state in the union to scrap a 19th-century blue law prohibiting the sale of booze on the Sabbath,” according to the article.

“Indiana retailers said they’ve seen a boost in business since Sunday sales started more than a year ago,” The Times reported. “Overall, Indiana brought in $51.5 million in alcoholic beverage tax revenue in 2018, up 4 percent from the $49.4 million in made in 2017, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue.

“Legalized Sunday sales (in Indiana) also appear to have meant a hit for retailers in (neighboring) Illinois. Illinois liquor tax revenue fell 0.6 percent to $88.5 million last year, down from $89.2 million in 2017, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue,” which means residents from Indiana were likely spending their hard-earned dollars across state lines before Sunday sales were legalized, much like what is happening in our own town.

Clark County would likely see an increase in revenue currently going to Fayette County. Why should our local retailers be forced to forfeit those dollars to a nearby community?

Any argument about the religious or moral implications of Sunday alcohol sales should be null and void as our policymakers are expected to adhere to a separation of church and state that has long been established in our country.

The U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” We believe that criteria should apply to our local representatives as well.

We hope the commissioners will consider the benefits Sunday alcohol sales could have for our community.

We hope the proposed expansion to include Sunday sales for microbreweries, distilleries and wineries passes, and when it does, we hope this can be a catalyst to legalize Sunday sales across the board.