At the Publix Super Market in North Augusta, the refrigerator cases stocked with beer and wine used to be dark on Sundays. The passing of a referendum allowing Sunday sales in the city has turned the lights on for the grocery’s customers.
Publix is one of five North Augusta stores that acquired licenses for selling beer and wine for off-premise consumption on Sundays since the citywide referendum was approved by 68 percent of voters in November. Two Kangaroo Express locations, Kroger and Bi-Lo also have approval. Additionally, Ruby Tuesday can sell alcoholic drinks on Sunday.
The convenience for regular shoppers played a large role in Publix applying for the permit, said Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-division Publix stores. Sunday was already one of the busiest shopping days, she said.
“Over time, customers began asking us about purchasing alcohol on Sundays,” Reid said. “We didn’t anticipate an increase in the number of customers.”
Glynn Jenkins, a spokesman for The Kroger Co., said that Sunday is a busy day for shoppers and North Augusta residents. They showed that they wanted the right to buy alcohol on that day by passing the referendum and repeatedly in feedback to the store.
“While it’s too early to speculate on the long-term impact, we have routinely heard from customers who are favorable and pleased to purchase beer and wine on Sunday.
Sunday alcohol sales began at Kroger on Dec. 16 and at Publix on Dec. 23.
Publix rolled out Sunday sales at its Georgia stores over the past year after a change in state law allowed individual municipalities to decide whether to allow Sunday sales. Reid said customers reacted slowly to the change and stores did not experience a surge of customers. The North Augusta store also had a smooth transition, she said.
Mayor Lark Jones said Sunday sales should help the city attract restaurants.
“When the surrounding jurisdictions allow sales, it becomes an impediment,” Jones said. “If your rules are more restrictive, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.”