Sunday Selling

February 17, 1960

Report Outline
Crusade Against Sunday Commercialism
Laws and Litigation on Sunday Closing
Main Issues in Sunday Law Controversy

Crusade Against Sunday Commercialism

Sunday selling at roadside stores and suburban shopping centers, often promoted by extensive display advertising, has been stirring up controversy in various parts of the country. Law enforcement authorities, pressed by “Save Sunday” crusaders to prosecute at least the principal offenders, have had to rely on ancient laws designed to keep the Sabbath holy by the standards of another day. These laws in many cases have proved inadequate to the task in hand. That task essentially is not to regulate personal conduct, as attempted by the blue laws of colonial times, but to curb or eliminate practices considered by some people either objectionable in themselves or unfairly competitive from a commercial standpoint. The question of Sunday closing still has moral overtones, but the business aspects are of growing importance. Sunday selling, meanwhile, continues on the Increase, presumably because many families find it greatly to their convenience.

Efforts to enforce old but rarely invoked Sunday laws have led to litigation involving difficult questions in the relationship between church and state. High state courts have recently handed down important decisions in these cases. Convictions for Sunday selling and injunctions to restrain interference with such selling now appear headed for the U.S. Supreme Court and final verdicts on the constitutionality of the present statutes. Whatever the decisions, state legislatures already are being pressed to clarify and strengthen existing legislation affecting commercial activity on Sunday.

Agitation for Sunday closing of stores dealing in general merchandise has come alike from churches seeking stricter observance of the Christian Sabbath and from downtown merchants whose business is hurt by Sunday selling in outlying districts. Counter-pressure has been brought to bear by spokesmen for Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists, who observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and by retailers who do a large part of their business on Sunday, Others, including some religious leaders, are torn between distress at profanation of the Lord's Day and belief that Sunday closing laws encroach on religious liberty.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Labor Standards and Practices
Popular Culture
Regulation and Deregulation
Religion and Politics