Is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's hope to bring tax revenue to the state through Sunday and holiday liquor sales working?
"It's really too soon to tell," Marty Johnson, store manager of in Avon, said, anticipating it to take as much as a year to properly evaluate the impact once residents settle into a pattern of liquor purchases with the new hours.
The owners of M&R Liquors, headquartered in South Windsor, didn't take long to decide on whether to open Sundays.
"They knew from the beginning that if there was the opportunity to be open, they'd be open," Johnson said.
However, for many smaller stores, like , the decision was not as easy because of a small staff and long hours.
"We see that we are already open 70-plus hours a week. Sunday sales, we do not see generating any extra revenue," Pi Patel, co-owner of Avon Wines & Spirits, said. "We have seen a drop in Saturday sales, which is just being recuperated on Sunday with extra overheads. So we decided not to be open and spend the time with the family."
About half of the Avon M&R cusomers like the Sunday hours because of the convenience, but the other 50 percent said it never should have changed, Johnson said, seeing as it an "attempt to get more taxes."
There seems to be less of a competitive edge for a town like Avon, which is not a border town near Massachussetts, he said, but our neighboring state may still hold an another advantage still over Connecticut liquor stores – lower prices. Massachusetts does not have a sales tax for liquor and Connecticut's is 6.35 percent. Both have excise taxes built into the price on the shelves based on the proof level of the alcohol, he said.
"What can the state of Connecticut do to allow retailers to lower prices so we can be competitive with them?" Johnson said. "It's not going to come from being open an extra seven hours a week."
The state of Connecticut has a limit on how low alcohol can be priced, Johnson said. For instance, a bottle of Kendall Jackson can't be lower than $12.99. A 1.75-liter bottle of Smirnoff vodka costs $21.99 at M &R Liquors, or $23.39 including taxes. At Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge, MA, however, it is priced at $19.99. Not only are there no sales taxes, but the store offers a $5 mail-in rebate. Without the rebate, the bottle is about $3.40 cheaper in Massachusetts, he said.
Johnson said Sunday at M&R was packed before Memorial Day and slow on the Monday holiday. Otherwise Sundays have been relatively quiet, he said.
While M&R was open on the 4th of July, Avon Wines & Spirits was not.
"We have not been open on the holidays yet. Labor Day Sunday, Labor Day, I'm not sure what we will do," Patel said. "We plan on keeping it closed all major holidays.
It's too early to tell, Johnson said, whether Sunday sales will help the stores, however he remains optimistic.
"We're still getting used to it," he said. "We hope in the long run, it will become profitable. We're trying to keep a positive outlook on it."
Liquor Stores Open on SundaysLiquor Store Open on Sundays? No No Yes, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yes, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Yes, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.