Plans fall flat for Sunday alcohol sales in South Carolina

South Carolinians who want to be able to go to the liquor store on Sundays – are going to have to wait at least another year.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 6:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolinians who want to be able to go to the liquor store on Sundays are going to have to wait at least another year.

A push to allow Sunday liquor sales has now stalled out at the State House.

South Carolina remains one of just four states where it’s illegal for stores to sell liquor on Sundays.

The people who killed the push to change that this year are the owners of mom-and-pop liquor stores.


Berkeley County Rep. Mark Smith filed a bill that could expanded alcohol sales in South Carolina’s biggest and most tourism-heavy areas.

The 10 counties that bring in at least a million dollars annually in hospitality tax – like Charleston, Horry, Richland and Greenville – could put this question to voters: Should retailers be able to sell liquor on Sundays?

A Charleston distillery said it would benefit from Sunday sales.

“I sit at the cash register every Saturday, and all these tourists — about 70% of our business on the weekends is tourists — and they say, ‘Can we come tomorrow and get it so we can take it with us on the airplane?’ And we tell them no,” said Jim Irvin of Firefly Distillery.

Larger distributors and retailers also support the expansion.

But opposition from mom-and-pop liquor stores killed the measure for this year – saying if voters approved it, they’d be forced to open on Sundays to stay competitive with corporately-owned liquor stores.

“If you give them that option, one person will open, and that will force the others. … I can count on one hand the number of times a tourist has come in and said, ‘Man, I wish you guys were open on Sundays,’” said David Osborn, who owns three liquor stores in Charleston.

They fear the costs they’d have to pay for staff and a Sunday liquor license would outweigh new profits they’d bring in.

“It’s adding additional costs to small mom-and-pops that aren’t hurting. I mean, nobody comes in and says they’re not going to visit Charleston County because we don’t sell liquor on Sunday,” said Kara Crowell of Sweetgrass Spirits & Wine in Mount Pleasant.

These bills won’t go any further this year – with South Carolina’s legislative session ending in two weeks.

But lawmakers can take them up when a new session begins here next January.