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At one time, “Blue Laws” prohibited sales of any type of merchandise on Sunday in Pennsylvania and other states. Today, almost all of these laws have been eliminated except for the sale of automobiles. In Pennsylvania, it is still illegal to sell cars on Sunday as it is in only 17 other states in the country. States neighboring Pennsylvania, like Ohio, New York, Maryland and West Virginia permit vehicle sales on Sunday.

Blue Laws

The laws were enacted due to religious reasons and became known as “blue” laws in the 17th century when the term “blue” referred to anyone who followed strict moral codes. In Pennsylvania, the laws were passed in 1794 and stated that “worldly employment or business whatsoever” was prohibited on Sunday. Only milk delivery, restaurants, taverns and ferryboat operators were exempt. The State Board of Vehicles Act of 1968 forbid the “buying, selling, exchanging, trading or otherwise dealing in vehicles on Sunday” with fines of up to $1,000 for violators. In 1978, most of Pennsylvania’s blue laws were overturned, but the vehicle sale prohibition remains.

Lifting the Ban

Senator Camera Bartolotta has introduced a law to allow car sales on Sunday in Pennsylvania. She says that because bordering states allow sales, Pennsylvania buyers are going to other states to make a purchase on Sunday, costing the state revenue. She also says that families who work during the week may find it more convenient to purchase a vehicle on Sunday. Senator Bartolotta says that dealers could be losing hundreds of thousands in income by remaining closed. 


Dealer Reaction

Dealers in Pennsylvania do not want to see the ban lifted, claiming Sunday is the only day their employees have to spend with family. They also believe that consumers often visit a car dealer on Sunday because they know they will not be approached by a salesperson, allowing them time to shop at their own leisure. Some say that research indicates that sales do not increase when dealers are open seven days a week. Car dealers who are open on Sunday in states that permit sales on that day disagree, saying that an additional day during the week has increased sales significantly. They say they are seeing more customers coming to their out-of-state dealership on Sunday from states that don’t permit such sales. To manage the employee factor, the dealers use shifts and scheduling methods to make sure employees have time off during the week.


Consumer Reaction

Consumers have mixed reaction to car dealers being open on Sunday. For some, it is the only day they have to shop for a vehicle. This means that if they live in Pennsylvania, they have no other option but to visit a dealership in a state that allows Sunday sales in order to purchase a vehicle. Others say that they do enjoy the fact that they can browse vehicles on a lot without being hassled by a salesperson because lots are closed on Sunday. Today, a lot of car shoppers do significant research online before ever contacting a dealer. Some negotiate the type of vehicle they want, the price they will pay and the financing before ever stopping foot in a dealership. However, even those who do the majority of the work online, Sunday sales would be beneficial as it would provide them with even more options for signing paperwork, taking a test drive or getting questions answered more quickly.

Records are not kept by dealers or manufacturers regarding the number of people from out-of-state who purchase vehicles at a certain dealership, so it is difficult to know exactly how much is being lost in states where auto sales are prohibited on Sunday. Dealers in states that do permit sales on Sunday report that there is increased income when they are open seven days as opposed to six. Pennsylvania is not the only state with pending legislation to repeal Sunday vehicle sale blue laws. Others are also looking into allowing the sale or trade of a vehicle on Sunday in order to increase revenue. The states that do not have those laws say that Sunday sales have improved their bottom line and led to additional sales, many of those from bordering states whose vehicle Sunday sale prohibition still exists.


This entry was posted in Boardman Nissan and tagged Car Shopping, New Car, Boardman Nissan, Boardman OH on 05/02/2017 at 9:38 AM

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