Over at the Wilton Patch, reporter Cathryn J. Prince interviews UConn economist Fred Carstesen about Sunday Liquor Sales. Carstesen tells Prince, “Show me a good study with comprehensive data that analyzes cross border purchases, revenue gain… otherwise I’m reluctant to go with Sunday sales.”

The only problem with this reasoning is that such a study was conducted in 2009, by the Legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee. It investigated the impact of Sunday sales on Massachusetts, New York, Colorado and other states. It is available for review here. The report concluded:

In Connecticut’s case, since the state is small, with cross-border alcohol availability on Sunday appearing to impact sales along the Massachusetts border, the repeal of the ban may lessen the accompanying revenue loss to the state. In fact, if all stores decide to open on Sunday, this recommendation should result in increased revenue to the state of $7.5 to $8 million in the year immediately following the lift of the ban. Given the economic conditions of the state it seems prudent for the state to allow Sunday alcohol sales and offer package stores on the borders to more effectively compete.

In light of the economic data presented in the report— that sales and tax revenues increased in New York, Massachusetts, and Colorado when Sunday sales were legalized, it seems hard to believe that they won’t increase in Connecticut.

One of the other key conclusions of the report was that per-capita spending on liquor in Massachusetts border towns was significantly lower than in towns on the New York and Rhode Island borders and towns in the interior of the state. This is based on data from Carstesen’s own State Data Center. (See Table VII-11).

This data matches what you see on the ground. If you speak with local package store owners in Enfield, they will tell you that the business changed after Massachusetts legalized Sunday sales. Consumers stopped stocking up for Sunday and instead if they needed a bottle will buy one in Massachusetts. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to visit the package stores on the Mass border on Super Bowl Sunday and see what kind of business they get. This is revenue lost to Connecticut retailers and the State of Connecticut.

Nonetheless, Carstesen’s comments raise serious questions. Did Carstesen speak to the press without checking the facts and reading the Program Review and Investigations Report? Or is he a tool of Caroll Hughes and the Connecticut Package Stores Association?

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