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Sunday Sales

1 rating: -2.0
Permitting retail stores to open on Sundays by the repeal of so-called "blue" laws.

A blue law is a type of law, typically found in the United States and Canada, designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, and a restriction on Sunday shopping. Most have been repealed, … see full wiki

1 review about Sunday Sales

Sundays just aren't that special anymore.

  • Jan 4, 2011
  • by
It is a subject that I am passionate about and the book I have always wanted to write. I suspect that the initial reaction of most folks who read this piece will be to vehemently disagree with my position. However, I am quite confident that given sufficient time to reflect many of you just might come around to my way of thinking. It might come as a shock to those under the age of 30 to discover that as recently as the early 1980's it was virtually impossible to shop on Sunday in many parts of this country. Sundays were pretty much reserved for activities like going to church, enjoying dinner with the family, curling up with a newspaper, playing with the kids, visiting relatives and friends or perhaps kicking back and enjoying a sporting event on TV. Indeed, Sundays were different and very special.  It was a day to slow down, reflect and enjoy…..you know the proverbial day of rest.  But sadly all of this began to change in the early 1980's and in my opinion the passage of statutes permitting retailers to be open on Sunday has been a major factor in the destruction of family life in this country. Have you checked the divorce rate lately? I argued passionately that this would be the result when these ideas were first being tossed around in the late 1970's and nothing I have observed since that time has changed my opinion one iota.

Now observing the Sabbath has been a very important part of both the Jewish and Christian traditions since Biblical times. The term "Sabbath" derives from the Hebrew "Shabbat" which means "to cease". When I was a kid everyone looked forward to Sunday. It was a day that you weren't required to do a lot of things. Most of the stores were closed and traffic was extremely light in marked contrast to the hustle and bustle we had to endure the rest of the week. But in the name of "progress" the pressure to repeal the old "blue" laws that restricted Sunday sales in many states began to rear its ugly head.  I remember all of the arguments. For one thing we were told that no one would be required to work on Sundays. It would all be purely voluntary. Yeah, right. We were also fed the line that retailers would only be open for a few hours on Sundays. Initially, most retailers opened from 12:00 to 5:00 but over the years the hours have gradually expanded to the point where Sunday is just another regular business day. And yes, people are now required by most employers to work on Sunday. I have turned down a couple of pretty good jobs myself over the years because of this requirement. Sunday sales laws have also given rise to expanded business hours during the rest of the week. Allowing Sunday sales has also had a negative impact on many family-owned small businesses who are placed at a competitive disadvantage when big-box retailers are allowed to open on Sundays. I will contend until the day that I die that allowing retailers to open on Sunday and the subsequent emergence of the "24/7" economy have had an extremely negative impact on family life in this nation. I see the evidence of this everywhere I turn. Is this really the way most of us want to live??? Would you change it if you could? Think about it!

In March 2010 author Judith Shulevitz's "The Sabbath World: Glimpses of A Different Order Of Time" was released. I have not read the book yet but according to the product description the author makes an impassioned case for the idea of restoring the Sabbath in some way, shape or form to our society. According to Shulevitz "the Sabbath is not just the holy day of rest. It's also a utopian idea about a less pressured, more sociable, purer world."  I completely concur. You need not be religious to see the wisdom of observing a Sabbath. She goes on to say "If everyone has to stop working, then they have to, sort of, pay attention to their family, to themselves, to their community".  I could not have said it better. In my view society has paid a very hefty price for allowing shopping on Sundays all in the name of convenience. In addtion to the negative impact on families a 2008 study by economists Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Daniel Hungerman of the University of Notre found that "repealing America's blue laws not only decreased church attendance, donations and spending, but it also led to a rise in alcohol and drug use among people who had been religious."  Having said all that repeal of Sunday sales laws or the establishment of a weekly day of rest is not likely to happen during my lifetime. There are very powerful interests at both ends of the political spectrum (Chamber of Commerce, ACLU) that would vehemently oppose such a notion. Furthermore, since Sunday is considered to be a working day in most Muslim countries as well as in Israel it would be very tricky to settle on one particular day of the week in a multi-cultural society like our own. But I believe that it is an idea that is at least worth considering. Let me conclude with the observations of author Stephen Miller who has written another book on the subject called "The Peculiar Life of Sundays". According to Miller "It's fast becoming like other days, because of the commercialization of Sunday. We're losing a day of rest. We're sort of ‘on' all the time now. As a result I think we are losing something."   Perhaps the Puritans were onto something here. In any event, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. This could make for a very lively discussion.

"The Peculiar Life of Sundays" by Stephen Miller (Harvard University Press, 2008)
"The Sabbath World: Glimpses of A Different Order of Time" by Judith Shulevitz (Random House, 2010)
Sundays just aren't that special anymore. Sundays just aren't that special anymore. Sundays just aren't that special anymore. Sundays just aren't that special anymore.

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July 10, 2011
I agree. Society needs a day of rest and relaxation collectively.
January 05, 2011
I'm under 30, so yes, it is a shock to learn that it was impossible to find an open store on Sunday as late as the 80's! I thought concepts like those were strictly for other cultures, like European culture. I really like the idea of Sunday being a lounge around day with friends and family instead of the hustle bustle mess that it is now. I think there's also a shift in how many hours people work a week now, so a lot of people like the convenience of the weekend to shop and go out. Thanks for sharing this review, Paul. Really, really interesting.
January 05, 2011
Well, I never gave this subject much thought, but you put it well! I guess it never crossed my mind because I've been a church going girl for many years. But even after my husband and I left organized religion in favor of gathering at home with some Christians, we still consider one day a week as a must to rest, whether it is Saturday or Sunday. I think the problem is much bigger that just blue law being repealed, it is that Americans have become workaholics to the point of blindness. I don't know of any other country where people work like this, many seven days a week. This guarantees burnout, poor health, broken relationships, etc. All in the name of funding consumerism and "I want this, and this, and that, and this toy, and this new gadget..." I rarely do any shopping on Sundays and intend to keep it that way. For me it is a day to make cookies and relax in the company of my family and friends :)
January 05, 2011
I agree with you. I rarely go shopping on Sundays. The last place I want to be on a Sunday is a mall! Thanks for your interesting remarks!
January 04, 2011
Very thought-provoking review, Paul. I agree with you. I've always been envious of Spaniards who get daily siestas, a mandatory break time in the middle of a day. I'm pretty sure that they observe a day of rest as well, but, I'll have to tell you after I visit Spain! In any case, I don't think we necessarily have to make it about religion but, I do think we should encourage people to spend more time offline and with their families. I think that it'd be nice to not be able to do errands on Sundays, though I am sure it would take some getting used to. As it is, and I'm not sure why, I do think of Sundays as days to spend time with families and friends eating, drinking, being merry and hanging out. I find it a nice relaxing reward for my week of hard work.
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