Alcohol days of sale restrictions

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated

States and municipalities can limit the days alcohol can be sold in on-premise settings such as bars and restaurants or in off-premise outlets such as liquor and convenience stores. Regulations regarding on- and off-premise alcohol sales vary by state; most policies that limit days of sale focus on weekend days, usually Sunday. Some states and municipalities also places limits on times of sale1.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Reduced excessive drinking

  • Reduced alcohol-related harms

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Reduced crime

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is some evidence that maintaining limits on the days alcohol can be sold prevents excessive alcohol consumption and related harms1. Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Overall, repealing limits on days of sale in on- and off-premise settings has been shown to increase alcohol consumption and motor vehicle-related harms in the United States and abroad1, 2. Imposing limits on days of sale in off-setting premises may reduce alcohol-related violence and injuries and decrease consumption1. A Virginia-based study suggests that repealing Sunday alcohol sales restrictions in off-premise outlets is associated with increases in minor and alcohol-related crime3, and a Philadelphia-based study indicates an association with increased crime levels overall, particularly in low income urban neighborhoods4.

Limits on the times of sale may also affect alcohol consumption and related harms. Increasing hours of sale by two or more hours has been shown to increase alcohol consumption and related harms in on-premise settings in Europe and Australia; effects are less certain when hours of sale are increased by less than two hours1.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

As of January 2018, 11 states ban Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages at off-premise outlets statewide5.


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1 CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption.

2 Yoruk 2013 - Yörük BK. Legalization of Sunday alcohol sales and alcohol consumption in the United States. Addiction. 2013;109(1):55-61.

3 Heaton 2012 - Heaton P. Sunday liquor laws and crime. Journal of Public Economics. 2012;96(1-2):42-52.

4 Han 2016 -

Han S, Branas CC, Macdonald JM. The effect of a Sunday liquor-sales ban repeal on crime: A triple-difference analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2016;40(5):1111-1121.

5 APIS - Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS). Welcome to the Alcohol Policy Information System.