Bill Would Allow Liquor Stores to Open on December 26

The House of Representatives has advanced a bill that would allow package stores to open the day after Christmas – a measure that would remove one of the last remaining Colonial-era blue laws restricting alcohol sales.

Current state law requires package stores to close Monday when Christmas falls on a Sunday, which means package stores this year will need to stay closed for two consecutive days.

“This is one of the quirks in the blue laws we never fixed,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, as quoted by the Patriot Ledger.

Hurst said he hopes to see the bill pass the House and the Senate and be placed on Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk soon to give stores ample opportunity to schedule employee shifts and advertise to customers that they will be open Dec. 26.

Stores are still required to be closed Christmas Day, but package stores were left out of the equation in 2005 when the Legislature clarified state laws to make clear that most retail establishments are allowed to open the day after Christmas when the holiday falls on a Sunday.

The once-restrictive Sunday and holiday retail laws in Massachusetts have taken nearly two decades to unravel starting in 1994, when voters approved a ballot question that allowed retail stores for the first time to open on Sundays throughout the year.

Package stores first earned the right to open on Sundays in 2003 when the Legislature voted to allow cities and towns to grant licenses for Sunday alcohol sales.

“There’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be selling alcohol on the day after Christmas,” said Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, who sponsored the bill, as quoted by the Patriot Ledger. “There’s nothing legitimate about it except that it’s an old blue law, and this will put stores on a level playing field with surrounding communities in other states.”

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