Sunday Liquor Sales Help Some Stores, Others Struggle

July 01, 2018 10:34 PM

One year ago, on July 1, Sunday liquor store sales became legal in Minnesota for the first time. Although there are no definitive figures available to determine the economic impact on state liquor tax revenue and liquor store operations, there is some evidence it's been a positive move.

"It's not too soon to eat my words from last year," said Edina City Manager Scott Neal, who oversees operations at the city's three municipal liquor stores.


Last year he was among the majority of liquor store operators who thought Sunday liquor sales would be a money-losing proposition. Instead, he estimates gross sales are up about $240,000, with about $50,000 of that being profit.

RELATED: Minnesotans Line Up for First Sunday Liquor Sales

"As we begin in our operations to figure out what kind of sales happen on Sunday compared to any other day of the week, because they are a little different, we hope to develop marketing strategies around that so we can increase our profits even more," Neal said.

Selling liquor on Sundays is an extra burden for store clerks who now have to work on a day they used to always count on having off.

"The very first Sunday we were open people were coming in and taking selfies...they were so excited about it," said Michael Levin, a clerk at the Edina Liquor Store on Vernon Avenue. "It sort of teetered off after a while."

RELATED: Wisconsin Liquor Stores React to Minnesota's New Sunday Sales

Except, he said, on Sundays during the Vikings football season. The team's 2017 playoff run kept stores busy just about every Sunday the team played.

Not all liquor stores are celebrating the one-year anniversary of Sunday liquor sales.

"As expected Sundays are pretty slow," said Dana Rose, co-owner of Sharett's Liquor Store on University Avenue in St. Paul. "With expenses it's hard to break even on a Sunday."

RELATED: Small, Family-Owned Liquor Stores Provide Sunday Sales Report Card

Rose has operated Sharrett's since 1976 and has a business partner and seven employees. He said it's hard to compete with the municipal liquor store operations and big private chains.

One thing that is working on Sundays is that sparkling wine sales are up because people are having mimosas with brunch," he said with a chuckle. "Other than that I don't see's a fight. A fight to keep my head above water."

The state doesn't track tax revenue specifically generated by Sunday liquor sales so it's hard to determine a true economic impact. However, overall liquor, beer and wine tax receipts were up during the first three quarters of Sunday sales.

According to the Minnesota Management and Budget Office those tax collections totaled $61.9 million through April 2018, about $2.3 million above the $59.6 million collected during the first three quarters of the state's 2017 fiscal year.


Tom Hauser

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