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ATLANTA -- Beer and wine sales at convenience and grocery stores in Atlanta would end at 11:45 p.m. daily under a proposal being considered by the City Council.
Currently, the city allows retailers to sell beer and wine 24 hours a day Monday through Saturday. Atlanta would join most other area municipalities in cutting off sales of alcoholic beverages at stores before midnight if the City Council adopts the plan, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The change is part of an ordinance meant to curb crime by requiring bars and nightclubs to close one hour earlier, at 3 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. Convenience and grocery stores would follow the same hours for sale of alcohol that liquor stores follow: 8 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Georgia bans package alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday.
Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith said the proposal would address late-night violence and drunkenness around convenience stores, which she suggested might be worse than the problems around nightclubs.
"Convenience stores should have always been on the same hours as the package stores anyway," Smith told the newspaper. "This way, we have more control over drinking and driving and it would help with the late-night loitering behind the convenience stores."
Convenience stores have joined nightclubs in fighting efforts to limit alcoholic beverage sales. Members of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores can't understand why an ordinance intended to address violence in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta might be altered to affect their stores, according to Jim Tudor, president of the association.
Atlanta is on the verge of "ordinancing itself out of business," Tudor told the newspaper. "[C-store operators are] having a hard time understanding why they're being drawn into this fight. It appears all we're going to do is drive business to other jurisdictions. This would put Atlanta retailers at a disadvantage. The shopper who can buy two blocks down the road and be in another city will certainly do so."
In Cobb County, package sales must stop by 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and by midnight Saturday. In Fulton and DeKalb counties, retailers can sell alcohol from 8 a.m. until just before midnight Mondays through Saturdays. In Gwinnett County, beer and wine may be sold from 7 a.m. to midnight on those days.