ABC Stores to Open Doors on Sunday

Reporter: Carleigh Griffeth

Lynchburg, VA- Starting July 1, ABC stores in Virginia can start selling alcohol on Sundays unless prohibited by local law.

In many parts of the state, including in our viewing area, the stores will be open and selling from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. This has been a long time in the making.

Changes to Virginia's so called "blue law" started back in 2004 when select ABC stores began selling alcohol on Sundays. It was expanded to stores in large cities in 2008. Soon, more stores will join.

As you can imagine, some don't like the idea at all. But some say Virginia's old law should have been tossed out with Prohibition.

"Socially the trend is definitely not to base laws or any sort of regulation on religion. So if you were to go to a major city, any place in the Northeast pretty much, and even throughout the country, larger cities would have no problem selling alcohol on Sunday," said Jared Byas, professor of philosophy and religion.

But in the Bible Belt, many people still believe there should be no alcohol on the day of rest.

"To me it just seems like by opening up the stores on Sunday it's just one more opportunity for people to go out and abuse something that can get them in a lot of trouble," said Larry Davies, district superintendent for United Methodist Church.

In Virginia, you can already buy beer or wine at grocery stores on Sundays, just not liquor. And you can order a drink at a bar or restaurant.

"If people want it they're going to get it, or they already have it. So, what's one extra day," said Matthew Doss, a Lynchburg resident.

Sunday sales do bring more money to the state. Last year's ABC report shows Sunday store sales were up 9.6% from 2010, putting $1.8 million more into the state's pocket.

But some say that doesn't make it right.

"Selling alcohol on Sunday in itself is not all bad. But what it does is it's just one more thing where people can think about something other than what we hope they'll be thinking about on Sunday, and that's their relationship with God," said Davies.

After the new law goes into effect, the state plans to monitor the some 200 ABC stores that will be affected. After six months, if stores don't profit from opening their doors on Sunday, the decision will be made whether or not to keep the new hours.