Anti-Shopping Blue Laws Likely To Die In A Fire

March 27th, 2010 by alyx · 5 Comments · retail

For most of us, “blue laws” are those antiquated things that let us know what counties to avoid stopping over in on a weekend road trip, but if you live in Bergen County, New Jersey, you’re probably used to the malls not being open on Sunday. Yeah, in most of Bergen you can get some booze on a Sunday but you can’t get any pants, which sounds like a really dangerous combination. At its best, it’s kind of like Adbusters Buy Nothing Day, except it happens once a week instead of once a year. We assume that residents are usually like BFD and just go buy their pants on Saturday, but it was rather inconvenient for them last weekend when a storm tore through and flooded everyone’s basements and they apparently couldn’t hit up Home Depot or whatever for sump pumps until Monday rolled around. Soggy carpeting is soggy!

However, Bergen County’s blue law may be falling victim not to necessity but instead to a need to rake in the almighty tax dollar:

The Sunday shopping ban in New Jersey’s largest county — among the nation’s last remaining blue laws — may be lifted to satisfy the state’s hunger for more sales tax revenue. The budget proposed last week by new Republican Gov. Chris Christie assumes $65 million in new sales tax revenue by jettisoning the law starting July 1.

Some officials believe dropping Bergen County’s blue law would allow it to pick up Sunday customers from the nation’s largest metropolitan area; Manhattan is just a 20-minute cab ride away.

John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, said lifting the ban makes economic sense. He said adding a day of shopping in Bergen County would generate 3,200 jobs and more than $1.1 billion in net new retail sales a year. A portion of those sales would be from people who would have shopped online when retailers in their home county are closed.

NYC’ers — are you really dying to wake up on Sunday morning, stretch your legs, have a heaping pile of hazelnut waffles at Balthazar and head out to Paramus to hit the mall? New Jersey’s gov thinks you are, and that there are a ton of NY and NJ residents waiting for him to open the floodgates so they can come into Bergen to do their patriotic duty and consume. However, his opposition thinks the entirety of Bergen County – roads, police, fire – will come to a screeching halt if they allow for seven days of commerce. We suppose the other interesting bedfellows on the opposition side would include environmentalists and, per Holub’s quote, perhaps Amazon.com and other internet behemoths.

5 Comments so far ↓

  • Jason

    I’d say expect South Carolina to not be far behind – almost all of its counties are subject to blue laws, except for those who bring in a certain amount of money in hotel room taxes – but it came up a couple of years ago. You would not believe the outrage from people who, in so many words, were terrified that everyone would stop going to church because they could go buy socks on a Sunday morning instead.

  • Foolish Jordan

    We actually go to Bergen county on the weekend a lot to visit the big Japanese grocery store in Edgewater, since my wife is Japanese. And we would buy stuff at the Target just down the street on Sunday if it were open.

  • Bill

    One person chooses church on Sunday, another chooses the mall. It’s all religion.

  • alyx

    I need a picture of that exit sign on I-4 that says MALL AT MILLENIA HOLY LAND EXPERIENCE.

  • Nisses

    And here I sit in a moderate Dutch city where it is already not easy to find any ordinary shop open, even though religious attendance is at what could be called an all time low, government is considering reducing opening hours for the sunday is not for shopping…. sometimes capitalism does bring something for the people… now where is my interpunction guide…

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