New Jersey car dealers have all but thwarted an attempt to overturn the state's ban on Sunday sales.
In late June, Wayne DeAngelo, a Democratic assemblyman, introduced a bill that would allow dealerships to sell vehicles on Sundays, says Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers in Trenton.
Appleton told DeAngelo that dealers do not support the measure.
"He seemed surprised by that," Appleton says. "He thought of the law as a vestige of a time when people were more religiously observant and it didn't fit with modern shopping patterns."
But "scores" of New Jersey dealers and dealership employees wrote to the lawmaker explaining that Sunday sales create an additional day of expense to run the dealership, Appleton says.
He says Sunday would be additional work for people who already work long hours, and Sunday hours rarely lead to more sales.
Appleton says many consumers do most of their vehicle research online and enjoy browsing dealership lots on Sundays without salespeople present.
The New Jersey bill has been referred to committee where Appleton suspects it will die because of dealers' objections to it.
About 20 states restrict or ban Sunday car sales, says a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association.
One of New Jersey's neighboring states, New York, allows Sunday sales.
New Jersey dealers who own stores in New York say the extra day does more harm than good, Appleton says.
"They say they can't attract or retain good people in New York because of the Sunday sales," Appleton says. "The quality of person who works in the car business in New Jersey is head and shoulders above the folks in New York because in New York they all know they have to work on a Sunday. It's a seven-day-a-week retail job."
But the two largest publicly owned U.S. dealership groups in terms of new-vehicle retail sales, AutoNation Inc. and Penske Automotive Group, have several stores in states that allow Sunday sales, and they support the practice.
"You have to schedule accordingly and do the things necessary to cater to the needs of your customers," says Tony Pordon, executive vice present of investor relations and corporate development at Penske Automotive.
Pordon says stores representing 94 of Penske's 171 franchises in the United States are open on Sundays. The stores "generally schedule our sales staffs to work five days a week and we would alternate the weekend time slots," he says.
AutoNation spokesman Marc Cannon says 146 of AutoNation's 246 locations are open on Sundays. He adds: "We have associates who like to work Sundays and request the day."