HAMMOND — The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to allow retail sale of alcoholic beverages of all types on Sundays.
City ordinances, for many years, prohibited the sale of beverages with more than a 5 percent alcoholic content at grocery stores, supermarkets and drug stores and bars.
Businesses with permits allowing them to serve food were allowed to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays.
Managers representing a number of retail outlets attended Tuesday’s council meeting, and several asked members to approve the measure.
Randy LeBlanc, a co-owner of LeBlanc’s Supermarkets, told the council that substantial amounts of sales were leaving Hammond on Sundays because shoppers who wished to purchase alcoholic beverages were taking their business to stores outside the city limits on those days.
The Tangipahoa Parish Council several years ago authorized the sale of all alcoholic beverages on Sundays.
Taking note of that action, LeBlanc said that it is easy for those wishing to buy liquor to drive to the nearest store outside of Hammond.
LeBlanc said that when customers come into a store to buy alcohol they will also purchase a number of other items. He told the council that his and other stores are missing out on the sales of products other than the liquor.
Kevin Brunelle, manager of Albertsons supermarket, told the council, “Citizens should be allowed to make their own choice whether or not to purchase alcohol on Sundays.”
Brunelle said that the issue was about shopping choices and that if shoppers know that they cannot buy alcoholic beverages on Sundays in Hammond, they will take their business elsewhere.
Brunelle said that when the city allowed for liquor sales at Christmas and on Super Bowl weekend, his sales shot up significantly.
He said that Sundays are now a “slow” day at his store, but that allowing the sale of alcohol on Sundays will improve his revenue.
Brunelle reminded the council that a new Wal-Mart will be opening in nearby Ponchatoula shortly, offering even more competition to Hammond businesses.
LeBlanc and Brunelle both said that the city should see an increase in sales tax revenue after approving Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages.
Dan Lambert, a bar owner in Hammond, asked the council if his business could be included in the new ordinance. However, Council Chairman Jason Hood told Lambert that bars were not part of the proposed ordinance and that if he wanted to explore changing the ordinance for bars, he could approach the council at a later date.
Lambert said that he is losing about $50,000 a year because he is not allowed to open his establishment on Sundays.
Hood repeatedly asked if anyone was present who wished to speak against the proposed ordinance change and no one came forward.
Councilman Bobby Martin voted against the change while Councilmen Mike Williams, Johnny Blount, Lemar Marshall and Hood voted for Sunday liquor sales.