This Centuries-Old Law Will Keep American Dream Mega-Mall Retailers Closed on Sundays

After nearly two decades and more than $5 billion, the American Dream mall will partially open its doors on Oct. 25, debuting the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park and NHL-size ice rink. But the retailers within its walls will be forced to abide by a rather antiquated law.

Though it has been branded as the shopping space of the future, American Dream is located in Bergen County, N.J., which has blue laws dating back to the 1600s that prohibit non-food retail from operating on Sundays.

The 3-million-square-foot mall complex, which will launch in its entirety in March 2020, is set to feature hundreds of stores — from Saks Fifth Avenue to Zara to Dolce & Gabbana. All of them will be forced to close on Sundays.

Despite the restrictions imposed on Bergen County retailers, the county is home to Paramus, N.J., which reportedly records $6 billion in retail sales per year — the most of any zip code in the U.S. — despite the forced Sunday shutdowns. Perhaps helping to balance out the six-day schedule is New Jersey’s lack of sales tax, which attracts New Yorkers looking to avoid paying the Empire State’s levies.

Bergen County is the last in New Jersey to have so-called blue laws, which were enacted in the 1600s to ensure residents set Sunday aside as a day of rest. Across the U.S., such laws were fairly common until the 1990s.

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