Leggett: Wait and See on Sunday Liquor Sales
County must determine which sales are new, executive says.
County Executive Isiah Leggett said Monday that it is too early to tell whether Sunday hours at county liquor and wine stores will bring significant revenue to county coffers.
"The question is does it take away from the Monday through Saturday sales?" said Leggett (D). "So in other words, you can get the increase [in sales] on Sunday. Now the question is, do you get a decrease the other days of the week?"
The county held its first Sunday sales at county stores this week.
"The total sales yesterday were about $121,000 for basically a six-hour shift," county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said on Monday. "We usually do two six-hour shifts so it's equal to half a day."
That $121,000 compared favorably to sales for half a day last Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday last week showed stronger sales, according to figures provided by Lacefield.
It was too early to tell whether Sunday sales are profitable because they may be cannibalizing existing sales, said Lacefield.
"We'll be looking to see to what extent those sales are taking away from sales we would have had through our existing franchises and through restaurants."
The approaching holiday season could affect sales figures in the initial weeks of the six-month trial period, Leggett (D) said.
At first it was going to be a 90-day trial, Leggett said. But officials recognized the potential for "a more robust number" due to the holiday season, he said.
Leggett said he wants "to see numbers on what are some normal timeframe and what the sales are during the midweek over the six-month period [in order] to make a better comparison."
The county collects about $28 million net profit from liquor sales each year. County officials predict that it will cost $15,000 to $20,000 more per week to open the stores on Sundays.
Owners of privately run beer and wine stores say that they are worried that the Sunday hours for county liquor and wine stores will erode their sales.
"It's something that we're going to look at," Leggett said on Monday. "And obviously it's one of the factors we're going to take into consideration."
Whether Sunday sales bring in enough revenue to be worth the operating expenses remains to be seen.
The County Council and members of the public asked Leggett to approve Sunday liquor sales, he said.
"Before I do that I want to see what this looks like," he said. "And that's why we have this six-month evaluation. So there's no decision to move to full implementation. This is just to have a trial period."
The trial will let the county see what Sunday sales would do for sales at private beer and wine stores and "what it does for us too," he said.
The benefit of the sales to the county is that "obviously the county makes more money when we sell it directly," Lacefield said.
Response to the Sunday openings was positive, Lacefield said.
"There was a fair amount of feedback from residents saying the convenience was great," he said. "That's one piece of the puzzle."