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Reality Check: The Impact Of Sunday Liquor Sales

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Sunday liquor sales are now a part of Minnesota's weekend life.

Sunday beer runs were made legal last summer for the first time in state history.

"We've been hearing loud and clear from our constituents that it's time to get this done," said Sen. Jeremy Miller, (R) Winona, who wrote the bill.

So what's the impact?

We asked the Minnesota Department of Revenue to crunch the numbers for us. The Department calculated alcohol excise taxes for calendar year 2017, compared to previous years. It found only a modest increase in alcohol sales since Sunday liquor went online.

Here are the numbers, as prepared by the Revenue Department:

Calendar year alcohol excise taxes, in thousands.

Year                       Tax Revenue              Change
CY2017               90,190                          +1.9 percent
CY2016               88,490                         +3.5 percent
CY2015               85,519

The Department said impacts of the law change may vary based on the individual business or area.

The numbers are consistent with the experience of many liquor store owners, like Andy Schmidt, who owns Pixie Liquors in Brooklyn Park.

"We haven't really seen a big uptick," he said.

And that's disappointing.

"Very, because all the talk was [that] there'd be more sales, and it just hasn't been there," Schmidt said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety:

"There are 1,112 exclusive liquor stores and municipally owned liquor stores with off-sale licenses. If you add in liquor stores operated in combination with on-sale licenses, the total increases to 2,277."

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents about 1000 licensed off sale liquor stores in Minnesota, says a survey of its members revealed about 850 stores are open Sundays.

The Revenue Department says detailed Sunday sales data won't be available until July.

But the early impact? Low and slow.

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