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Alcohol Armistice: Supermarkets, Liquor Stores Unite Behind Allowing Sunday Sales While Maintaining Limits on Cold Beer

Convenience stores denounce deal as sellout, say they'll continue cold-beer push

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Two powerful business associations on opposite sides of the battle over Indiana alcohol laws have struck a deal.

The trade association representing liquor stores and the group representing supermarkets say they've agreed to unite in supporting Sunday sales, while continuing a ban on letting anyone but liquor stores sell cold beer. They're also uniting in opposition to any restrictions on where and how stores display alcohol.

The last serious attempt at allowing Sunday sales, in 2015, collapsed under the weight of proposed new restrictions, including a requirement that supermarkets keep alcohol behind the counter or create a walled-off separate section of the store.

The Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers has argued for years Sunday sales would put up to a quarter of Indiana liquor stores out of business. Chairman Jon Sinder says he still believes Sunday sales will be bad for business, but says "it's time." He says it was clear it was a matter of time before legislators approved Sunday sales, and says the association sat down with the Indiana Retail Council to reach an agreement.

Retail Council president Grant Monahan says Sunday sales was always most important to supermarkets. He says Sunday is the second-heaviest shopping day, and customers wanted the convenience of being able to do all their shopping then. And he says the formation of a commission issuing recommendations later this month on changes to the alcohol law prompted the two sides to step up discussions.

The new alliance fractures an old one. Supermarkets and convenience stores have both been lobbying for Sunday sales and cold beer for years -- it was the acquisition of restaurant permits by Ricker's convenience stores which prompted legislators to form the study commission. The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association blasts the deal as "backroom gamesmanship" and "hypocrisy," and says it'll continue pushing for the right to sell cold beer.

It's still up to legislators to decide what changes to make. 

(Photo: blizzard_77/Thinkstock)


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