The Union Recorder

July 25, 2012

Retailers wait and see on Sunday sales

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Sunday alcohol sales referendums are inching closer for city and county residents, but local package retailers are taking a wait and see approach.

Legislation enacted last year at the state level allows Georgia communities the option of voting to continue a Sunday ban on alcohol sales or to eliminate the ban in their cities and counties. Several local governments added a Sunday sales referendum to the ballot last November and more have followed suit this year.

The majority of local governments have since voted to lift the ban, including neighboring Bibb and Putnam counties.

Baldwin County and City of Milledgeville officials recently discussed the issue. County Commissioners passed a resolution last week authorizing a referendum to allow package sales on Sunday by retailers of package malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits. The ballot question asks if the county shall be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday packaged alcohol sales between the hours of 12:30 and 11:30 p.m.

Milledgeville City Council passed a similar referendum Tuesday evening. Convenience, grocery and package stores will be affected by the change should it be approved by voters in the city and county.

Roc's Liquor Store owner Roc Patel doesn't like the Sunday idea and cited staffing concerns. Finding people to work the extra hours could prove troublesome.

Patel said his customers are used to buying alcohol on Saturdays and he predicts a low Sunday sales volume.

The referendum would give package retailers the option to open, but all agree they need to see how things pan out before deciding to stay open during Sunday hours.

Package store owners want to wait and see the true impact if the Sunday ban is lifted before making final verdict.

“I'm willing to satisfy the customer's needs. I'm going with the flow pretty much,” Roc Patel said. “If it happens, it happens. I'm not going to push for Sunday sales.”