"A lot of these guys were not happy with the law,'' Sorkin said. "They didn't aggressively go after the Sunday sales business. We're also in a bad economy. I think you've got to cycle a year.''
Statistics from the state Department of Revenue Services show that the number of gallons of beer sold increased by 3.11 percent from May through the end of November to nearly 33 million gallons. The gallons of wine went up by 2.25 percent, and distilled liquor went up by 4.89 percent. In addition to the extra gallons sold, the overall taxes collected on alcoholic beverages went up by 4.65 percent through the end of January, according to the tax department. The additional tax collected is $2.169 million, which some officials attribute largely to Sunday sales. The highest revenue came in June, followed by November and December.
Brian Durand, Malloy's deputy chief of staff and chief aide on liquor issues, said that even the package stores have increased sales under the new law.
"Connecticut retailers sold more wine and beer and spirits in 2012 than they did in 2011,'' Durand said in an interview. "If you look at the gallonage, you can't buy wine and spirits at supermarkets. It can only be bought at our package stores.''
He added, "From our perspective, the numbers point to a success for Connecticut and for retailers. This was an effort to increase consumer convenience. It did what we hoped it would do — keep people in Connecticut stores'' and discourage them from crossing the border.
But some of the biggest liquor retailers in the Greater Hartford region say that Sunday sales have not been profitable for them.
"My customer count went up, but my average transaction went down, which caused my sales to go down,'' said Mike Bradley, the operator of Crazy Bruce's Liquors in West Hartford. "People do not have to keep an inventory in their house anymore because we're always open. When people had the inventory in their house, they drank more."
Jim Ransford, the owner of the large Connecticut Beverage Mart in New Britain near the Westfarms mall, said Sunday sales have backfired.
"Since we're open on Sunday, our Saturday sales are a joke,'' said Ransford, who has 33 years in the business. "We get more sales on Friday than Saturday. It's simple economics of supply and demand. … No one would believe us. Sunday is our slowest day of the week. All these grand promises last year. People coming in from all over the country making promises. Where are you guys now?''
He added, "A lot of the stores on the shore are closed on Sundays now. They gave up. Summertime for them is like Christmas-time for us. When the sales down there didn't happen on Sunday, we said, 'This is not good.' … I hope Sundays work out to be the greatest thing ever, but right now, it isn't. And that's fact. That's in red ink on my paper. I would switch in a heartbeat'' back to six days per week.
Both Ransford and Hughes said that some package stores are afraid to close on Sunday because they fear they would lose even more business.
"The 1,100 stores spent $7 million and did minuscule business, but few plan to change anything,'' Hughes said.
Alaimo agreed with Hughes that he has not made much money on the extra new items that have been permitted for sale, including lemons and limes.
"There's not big money in that, plus they go bad,'' he said. "You've got to refrigerate them.''
"The money is in potato chips, Slim Jims, beer nuts,'' Alaimo said. "If you come into my store, you can't buy potato chips. But if you go into Stop and Shop, you can buy all the chips and beer you want. Does that make sense?''
Courant staff writer Brian Dowling contributed to this report.