Nearly a year after the start of Sunday alcoholic beverage sales, higher retail sales volumes are holding up for beer, wine and liquor, the state Department of Revenue Services said Thursday. That does not mean everyone is happy, as Courant Capitol Bureau Chief Chris Keating reported earlier this year.
From July through January, the total volume of alcoholic beverages was up by just under 3 percent to 45.5 million gallons, the department said. The increase for distilled spirits was more than 5 percent, and that is only available in package stores. That’s slightly higher than the liquor increase from May 2012, when the law was adopted, through November — meaning the increase held up through the holiday season.
Keating reported that independent retailers were not seeing an increase despite their longer hours, and that supermarkets were seeing the largest increases. How does that jive with the higher liquor sales? It could be that a few stores are seeing the biggest increases, as Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan hinted in a comment with Thursday’s release.
“Overall,” Sullivan said, “the results are positive and especially for those who stretched to be more competitive.”
It’s worth comparing increases of the last year with previous years’ results. In the two years ending June 30, 2012, beer sales were down by a total of 8 percent, distilled alcohol was up by 3.7 percent and wine was up by 5 percent.
Was the law worth passing? Not to the small stores. For the state, the increase has meant an added $1.3 million in excise taxes through January, the department said. So it’s not about the money — it’s simply a consumer convenience at the cost of time off for hardworking independent package store owners.
Indiana is now the only state that bans Sunday alcohol sales.