How are Sunday sales impacting excise tax revenue in Georgia?

I think over the long run Sunday sales will have minimal impact on total sales of beer, wine, and liquor in the state. To me, the issue was never really about increased tax revenue, but simply about freedom — freedom for businesses that sell alcohol to use all seven days of the week and freedom for consumers to make choices.

On the issue of revenue, the AJC has an interesting piece today: Metro cities don’t see 
tax boon from Sunday sales

What’s interesting is that the text of the article to some extent contradicts the headline. The municipalities may not be predicting continued gains in perpetuity, but several who were the first to institute Sunday sales have seen surprisingly large revenue spikes from alcohol sales:

Metro Atlanta cities that have reaped rewards so far say it’s money most likely earned off neighboring cities and counties that weren’t so quick, and it will likely diminish once stores in unincorporated areas start selling seven days per week, too. Some store owners report that sales on Sundays detract from Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

“I think you’ll see it level out over time,” said Sandy Springs Revenue Supervisor Brandon Branham, whose city saw a 7.6 percent increase in January excise taxes, amounting to about $8,200 toward a $75.9 million budget.

Meanwhile, neighboring Atlanta, which started Sunday sales more than a month later, saw January wholesaler tax collections at a four-year low, according to unaudited figures.

Let me note, however, that these spikes in revenue represent very, very, very small amounts of money compared to the size of municipal and state budgets.

It’s also worth noting that some industry insiders predict significant gains in sales (and presumably in consumption), but I’m extremely dubious of such claims:

Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said that overall those are positive results. Counting on more impulse buys, his organization predicts Sunday sales will increase statewide liquor taxes by 5 percent to 7 percent, translating to an additional $3.4 million to $4.8 million.

That’s going to take at least a year to measure, though, after the majority of the state adopts Sunday sales, Hibbard said.

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