We were there when the sign lit up and the crowds poured into Tower Wine & Spirits in Buckhead, marking the first day of Sunday alcohol sales in Atlanta. Manager Burke Nicholson says Sunday sales have stayed steady ever since. "It started off a little slow the first couple of Sundays but then, it sinks in with people and more and more come. It's been a good experience for us."
Reporter Rebecca Lindstrom couldn't get Nicholson to say just how much sales had risen, only that they had gone up. But the city manager in Duluth, Tim Shearer, was less shy with the numbers. "We have realized about a 20% increase." In March 2010, before the community allowed Sunday sales, the city collected $37,069 in retail and restaurant alcohol related sales tax. This March that number shot up to $46,275. For the first three months of the year, the gains add up to more than $25,000 dollars.
In just about every community we talked with the tax revenues were up from 2011 alcohol sales. But the cities weren't sure whether to attribute that more to the improving economy. Sandy Springs tracks wholesale distributions rather than retail sales but still the numbers reflect the trend. Sales this year are higher than last, but not by much when you look at 2010. "So we're actually recuperating or at least coming back up," said Communications Director Sharon Kraun.
Shearer also believes the rebounding economy plays a role. "We've had 79 new businesses open in the first quarter so obviously that's a clear indicator that the economy is coming back."
Whatever the reason, nobody seems to think Sunday sales have hurt revenues. "We're paying our revenue share. So I think it's been good all the way around," Nicholson said laughing.