Have you ever wondered why car dealerships are closed on Sundays? It seems like the perfect day to go test drive a new car or buy a used one, but for some reason, dealerships choose to close their doors.
The tradition of closing car dealerships on Sundays dates back many years. In fact, it is rooted in religious customs that originated in the United States during the early 1900s. During this time, Sunday was considered a day of rest and worship for most people, and businesses were expected to honor this tradition by closing their doors.
Over time, these customs became ingrained in American culture, and even though they are no longer strictly enforced, many businesses still adhere to them out of respect for tradition. Car dealerships, in particular, have chosen to close on Sundays because they recognize that this is a day when most people want to spend time with their families or participate in other leisure activities.
“Sundays are meant for relaxation and spending time with family and friends – not haggling over car prices.”
Additionally, car dealerships also see Sundays as a low-traffic day, which means that staying open would be less profitable than remaining closed. By keeping their doors shut on Sundays, dealerships can give their employees a much-needed break while also maintaining a healthy bottom line.
In this post, we’ll explore the reasons behind why car dealerships are closed on Sundays and learn more about the history and traditions that support this practice.
History of Car Dealerships Closing on Sundays
The Origins of Sunday Closure Policies
Sunday is traditionally known as a day of rest in many countries, with religious and cultural significance attached to it. In America, the blue laws that were passed during colonial times prohibited engaging in business activities on Sundays. This restriction was mainly based on moral and religious grounds.
“The county will never be right till we shut up, everything except churches and cemeteries,” said politician Charles Pelham in 1908.
Later, in the early 20th century, automobile manufacturers encouraged car dealerships to close one day each week because cars were perceived as luxury items at the time. Shiny stores on main streets showcased automobiles like jewelry instead of practical transportation tools. As such, clients often took their leisurely time while purchasing a vehicle, either bargaining or just marveling at the latest models without serious distractions or pressure. That’s why closing on Sundays grew into standard practice for auto dealers across the country by this point.
The Evolution of Sunday Car Dealership Closures
Over time, changes in our culture and everyday habits made traditional Sunday closures somewhat outdated. Shifting consumer patterns led many industries to open their doors on weekends, including retailers, restaurants, theaters, and sporting events. People have limited hours to shop as technologies thrive and people look for time-saving solutions. Jeffrey Gitomer recounted a story where his client’s Toyota dealership began opening regularly on Sundays from ten am – five pm. He cited a poll he conducted which revealed “’Sunday openness elevated gross revenue per dealer more than thirteen percent.”’
“With no customer-facing service managers around—ostensibly, “management” wasn’t there—all parties (two sales people inside) became instant buddies; i.e., the walls came down. Customers guessed they would all befriend them too, and they did,” said Jeffrey Gitomer in an article for Entrepreneur.
Moreover, some dealership proprietors claimed that opening on Sundays intensified sales staff burnout, particularly since most of these dealerships had fewer people working during weekends. Many sellers already worked six days a week while sacrificing their quality family time. As such, doubling their workload through Sunday openings without offering significant bonuses or incentives could send them precariously close to true exhaustion or illness.
A few states changed blue laws at different times, allowing dealerships to open on Sundays. In 1982, Minnesota became the first American state to allow car sales seven days a week under a new law which eventually paved way for other states to follow suit. Over the past thirty years, large chains with multiple locations have strategically placed stores in areas with more relaxed Blue Laws as well.
“Like any industry-driven regulatory practice, lifting a ban must increase revenue opportunities while balancing the demands of the individual dealer’s workforce,” says automotive expert Gary Rome in a recent interview.
Car dealerships are still mostly closed on Sundays. However, changing cultural trends indicate that this traditional policy may become outdated soon enough. The trend has already started shifting away from structured workdays towards flexible hours, remote arrangements, and entrepreneurship options. It will not come as surprising if one day we see a legal change regarding Sunday closures for car dealerships altogether.
Legal Regulations that Mandate Dealership Closures on Sundays
In many states across the United States, car dealerships are required by law to close their doors on Sundays. Why is this so?
The reasons behind these Sunday closure laws vary depending on the state or district in question. However, most of the regulations stem from either blue laws at the state-level or federal labor laws.
State-Level Blue Laws and Their Impact on Dealerships
Several states have what are known as ‘blue laws’ which restrict commercial activity before noon on Sundays, citing religious reasons amongst others. Some of these bans expand beyond just morning hours and extend into complete shutdowns for certain industries, including vehicle sales. While there is significant variation between different jurisdictions on how strictly they enforce these rules, it is still the case that dealership owners face penalties if they break them.
“Under Minnesota statute 168.27, auto manufacturers can’t sell vehicles directly to consumers; rather, automakers must franchise with independent dealers approved by the state’s automobile dealers association. Additionally, Minnesota prohibits new-car dealers from selling any kind of merchandise—except accessories—to the public on Sunday.” – Car and Driver
States such as Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado,and Ohio also have blue laws that enforce dealership closings on Sundays except for service and parts departments..
The Federal Automobile Dealers’ Day in Court Act
Another reason why car dealerships are closed on Sundays has to do with federal legislation. The Auto Dealer’s Day in Court Act was passed in 1956 under President Eisenhower’s administration. This act gives businesses involved in the sale of automobiles a right to sue original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for damages resulting in substantial financial loss of value as a result of the OEMs’ practice.
“A dealership survives on profit margins that are typically much lower than those at regular retail businesses. More than 90% of its income may come from sales of new cars and trucks. To protect dealers’ rights, states have long passed franchise laws governing how car manufacturers terminate showroom contracts.” – Time
The Act also limits the authority of automakers to dictate certain terms to dealership owners, such as forcing them into costly facility improvements or minimum-quantity orders.
The Influence of Labor Laws on Sunday Closures
Labour laws in some districts can impact whether or not dealerships remain open on Sundays. Under the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA), which covers conventional ‘blue collar’ workers, employees who work above the hourly wage threshold must receive overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week. However, this doesn’t apply to white-collar jobs such as managers and executives.
A dealership has different job categories including those who meet the FLSA criteria and others that don’t. If some departments remain closed —or offer service only—on Sundays, it reduces transaction volume for the week’s busiest day. Automobile industry employers report difficulty when scheduling shifts because of employee preferences related to family obligations.
Recent Challenges to Sunday Closure Laws
In recent years, there have been challenges to current legislation enforcing Sunday closures. Automotive News reports an increase in “grassroots movements” calling for repeal of these regulations around the country. One of the arguments made by pro-repeal groups is that keeping dealers able to operate on Sundays would allow positive economic impacts for both vehicle sellers and their communities through increased tax revenues.
On the other hand, opponents argue that auto dealers should enjoy one specific weekend day without the pressure of having to be open to conduct transactions. They claim that this can help create a more family-friendly work environment within the dealership industry.
As of now, state-level legislation mandating dealership closures on Sunday remains in place across most American states.
- Minn. Stat. § 168.27
- N.J. Rev. Stat. § 39:10-14a
- Tex. Occ. Code Ann. § 1952.301-.307
Impact of Sunday Closures on Car Dealerships and Customers
Effects on Dealership Profits and Sales
The decision to keep car dealerships closed on Sundays has been a long-standing tradition in the automotive industry. Many states have blue laws, which provide restrictions on certain activities that can be performed on Sundays, including selling cars. While this law may seem like an inconvenience for dealership owners and customers alike, it is actually beneficial as it allows sales staff members to have a day off and spend time with their families.
Some dealerships argue that it limits their opportunity to reach more customers and sell more cars. As weekends are the busiest times for car dealerships, closing on Sundays means losing out on potential customers who do not have any free time during weekdays due to work or other commitments. On average, it leads to about 12% fewer sales in comparison to those dealerships that remain open all seven days of the week. Yet many argue that by operating mostly six days per week they maximize the return on investment from employees while respecting their need for downtime to chase leakage and address backlog.
Customer Satisfaction and Convenience Concerns
Despite the lost opportunities of revenue generation for car dealerships, many customers appreciate the fact that they do not have to deal with high-pressure sales tactics over the weekend. Some people prefer going car shopping without feeling pressured or rushed into making a quick decision. By having just one day out of the week where buyers cannot make vehicle purchase decisions, customers view it positively when contemplating buying a new car because it shows transparency and integrity rather than solely satisfying the desires of salespeople groveling for commissions at every turn.
In addition, buying a car usually involves paperwork which isn’t possible when financial institutions are closed down on Sundays. Banks and credit unions typically close on Sundays, with the exception of ATMs or online banking. Therefore, customers would need to wait an extra day for financing purposes in case they find their suitable vehicle over those 12% sales opportunities lost.
Impact on Dealership Employee Working Conditions
Many car dealership employees already work long hours and have limited time off, so having a guaranteed day off every week can be seen as a perk. Salespeople spend many weekends working hard to make sales which means that by Monday morning, they are tired and not ready-to-work get up-and-go. By preserving Sunday’s blue laws, these professionals can highly benefit from this refreshing downtime before returning back to work. It also helps boost employee morale and retention rates within the dealerships because it shows respect and value in maintaining balance between work-life responsibilities and personal non-work activities.
So why are car dealerships closed on Sundays anyway? One reason is due to religious beliefs being held by various owners who would choose to close down businesses during this holy US observance if allowed. However, there is another main reason behind the Sunday closure called Blue Law which mandates establishments remain shut down specifically for motor vehicles trading of all systems including purchasing or leasing out vehicles.
“We have taken a lot for granted in American economic life, just assuming these things will happen,” Said Karl Brauer, Executive Analyst at Cox Automotive pertaining to how most companies follow tradition across department store retailers, recreational facilities and automakers. “If we only knew the number of impactful changes that could occur or cultural shifts that may arise quickly after tinkering with them once.”
The impact of Sunday closures on car dealerships can be viewed in multiple ways, depending on one’s perspective. While some may argue about the loss of revenue generation possibilities resulting from fewer sales opportunities, others appreciate having dedicated family-time for dealership employees, as well as transparency and integrity reflected when conducting business with car buyers on non-sales oriented days. However, ultimately the part of US law ‘blue laws’, being restrictive on specific businesses trading goods primarily on Sundays, has a hold over what can or cannot be done and this tradition seems specifically unlikely change despite the benefits realized by both customers and dealership employees.
Alternatives to Sunday Car Dealership Visits
Online Car Shopping and Virtual Showrooms
Many car dealerships have shifted their focus to online shopping experiences, especially during the pandemic. Online car shopping websites allow customers to browse through inventory, compare models, and even apply for financing all from the comfort of their own homes.
In addition, many dealerships now offer virtual showrooms which can give a customer an immersive experience similar to what they might see at a physical location without ever leaving home. Customers can interact with sales representatives, explore vehicles inside and out, and even test drive cars virtually thanks to advancements in technology such as augmented reality.
“As we emerge on the other side of this crisis, we expect that customers will continue to value convenience, time savings and low- or no-contact interactions,” said Brian Finkelmeyer, senior director of new products and services at Cox Automotive.
Extended Weekday and Weekend Hours
To accommodate customers who may not be able to visit a dealership during normal hours due to work or other commitments, some dealerships have extended their weekday and weekend hours. This allows customers more flexibility when scheduling appointments and eliminates the need to take off work just to shop for a vehicle.
According to JD Power, “while showroom walk-ins are down across all days of the week, they are holding steadier on weekdays than weekends”. Thus, extending weekday hours could potentially attract more business during times when there is less foot traffic.
“Dealers have always found innovative ways to meet local needs, whether it was evening sales shifts affordably dining opportunities for busy shoppers. Responding to consumer market trends by changing retail operating hours has been a common approach in recent years.” – The National Automobile Dealers Association.
Mobile Dealership Services and Test Drives
Another alternative to Sunday dealership visits is the emerging trend of mobile dealership services. This innovative solution allows customers to schedule appointments for a sales associate to bring a vehicle directly to them, whether it be at their home or office.
In addition, many dealerships offer mobile test drives where a sales representative can deliver a vehicle to a customer’s desired location for them to experience firsthand.
“We’ve heard stories of consumer demand driving dealer innovations such as off-hours test-drive appointments or having an associate pick up vehicles from consumers’ homes to facilitate service,” said Dave Havasi, vice president operations at automotive software company Clutch Technologies.
While traditional dealership visits may not always align with a busy lifestyle, these alternatives provide more convenience and flexibility for car shoppers. From virtual showrooms to weekday extensions and even doorstep delivery, there are now more options than ever before to find that perfect vehicle without sacrificing important personal or professional commitments.
The Future of Car Dealership Sunday Closures
Car dealerships have long been closed on Sundays, but why is that? Many consumers may ask themselves this question while shopping for a car or scheduling maintenance. The answer lies in changing attitudes towards Sunday business operations, technology’s impact on dealership operations and sales, the role of consumer demand in Sunday closures, and future legal and regulatory changes affecting Sunday closures.
Changing Attitudes towards Sunday Business Operations
In the past, many businesses believed that being open seven days a week was necessary to maximize profits. However, over time, attitudes have changed toward allowing employees a weekend day off for personal well-being and family time.
According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 97% of companies offer some type of paid-time-off (PTO) policy for their employees. Employee retention and recruitment have become more competitive as job seekers prioritize work-life balance. Businesses are also adopting flexible schedules or remote-work options to accommodate employee needs.
“The benefits of allowing your team to have adequate time away from the office stretches far beyond good morale; It can lead to better productivity, retention rates, overall physical health, mental clarity, engagement levels and workplace happiness.” – Forbes
More companies prioritizing employee satisfaction mean potential success for those who do follow suit. As younger generations enter the workforce with different priorities and expectations, it is plausible that more auto manufacturers will recommend dealerships close at least one day per week.
Technology’s Impact on Dealership Operations and Sales
With technological advancements such as online shopping, social media communications and marketing automation software, customers now expect information and transactions around-the-clock— including weekends.
Despite these advancements, most people still make large purchases like vehicles in person, not online. However, customers increasingly conduct their research and decisions before walking into a dealership. If dealerships are closed on Sundays, they will miss out on potential customers and lose trust from those looking for information at all times of the week.
“Technology has truly revolutionized the way that car buying happens, and smart dealers are using this to their advantage.” – Forbes
Being open one more day per week will allow dealerships to catch up to competitors and demonstrate an appreciation for customer convenience. It’s important to note that technology is also changing internal operations. Dealerships can benefit from implementing efficient online payment processes, remote working capabilities or chat-bots that become available to answer consumer questions whenever a staff member isn’t present.
The Role of Consumer Demand in Sunday Closures
If consumers preferred to purchase cars on Sundays, it’s safe to say there wouldn’t be such widespread closures. However, surveys show that many people appreciate having weekends off for leisure activities with family, and would like to be able to shop throughout the weekdays. Monday through Saturday hours provide consistently reliable accessibility to auto services.
Additonally, car purchases usually require time-consuming documentation. That process requires banking days and trading hours. So, purchasing a car on a Sunday just won’t get you any closer to driving your new vehicle. Automakers themselves close on some national holidays so employees should get adequate breaks; however, those manufacturers do produce autos during weekend shifts when necessary.
Future Legal and Regulatory Changes Affecting Sunday Closures
Currently, state “blue laws”, each enforcing unique business regulation, are responsible for many states’ policies on Sunday closing hours. Some policy-makers see these regulations as outdated from when religious adherence influenced commerce. A 1992 report by The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that as many as 14 states still enforced regulations on automobile dealerships.
Changes in consumer expectations and business competition are starting to propel legislative change. Though these efforts have faced opposition from parties who disagree with added over-regulation. The automotive industry is keeping a close eye on the legal bills moving through state congresses in Michigan, Connecticut, and New Jersey that would allow Sunday sales of new cars so within dealership networks. Some hope other states will follow their example.
“Attitudes toward auto dealer blue laws, which restrict Sunday operations by franchised dealers, have shifted dramatically in recent years.” – Automotive News
Dealerships’ Sunday closures have been ingrained in American culture for decades. However, evolving attitudes about employee time off, changing customer buying preferences and regulations indicate this long-standing practice may not last forever. Only considering immediate requirements won’t grow dealerships into mature businesses. Rather than thinking about minimizing hours or cutting shifts, they’ll need to determine how to provide services most effectively while respecting employees’ personal lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do car dealerships choose to close on Sundays?
Car dealerships choose to close on Sundays primarily to give employees a day off and to save on operational costs. Additionally, many consumers prefer to shop for cars on weekdays or Saturdays, making Sunday closures less impactful on sales. Some dealerships also use Sundays to perform maintenance tasks or host private events.
Is there a legal or religious reason why car dealerships are closed on Sundays?
There is no specific legal or religious reason why car dealerships are closed on Sundays. However, blue laws, which restrict certain activities on Sundays, may have influenced the tradition. In some states, car dealerships are still required to remain closed on Sundays by law. Additionally, some dealerships may choose to close on Sundays for religious reasons.
What impact does closing on Sundays have on car dealership sales?
Closing on Sundays generally has minimal impact on car dealership sales, as many consumers prefer to shop for cars on weekdays or Saturdays. Additionally, dealerships may use Sundays to perform maintenance tasks or host private events. However, some consumers may have limited availability during the week, which could result in lost sales for dealerships that are closed on Sundays.
Are there any exceptions to the Sunday closure rule for car dealerships?
There are some exceptions to the Sunday closure rule for car dealerships, depending on state laws. For example, some states allow dealerships to be open on Sundays if they are located in tourist areas or if they sell certain types of vehicles, such as motorcycles or boats. Additionally, some dealerships may choose to remain open on Sundays during busy sales periods, such as holidays or year-end clearance events.
What other industries commonly choose to close on Sundays?
Other industries that commonly choose to close on Sundays include retail stores, banks, and government offices. Some restaurants, movie theaters, and amusement parks may also close on Sundays. Many of these closures are influenced by blue laws or religious traditions. However, some businesses may choose to remain open on Sundays to cater to consumers who have limited availability during the week.