Liquor Laboratory

What Time Does North Carolina Stop Selling Alcohol? 2024

What Time Does North Carolina Stop Selling Alcohol

Like other states, North Carolina imposes its own regulations regarding alcohol sales that locals, even tourists like us, should abide by.

If you’re new to the state or planning on visiting very soon, you must know the exact hours of liquor sales to avoid penalties or fines.

So, what time does North Carolina stop selling alcohol?

Our team took the hard work and asked some private clubs, gas stations, liquor stores, and even food businesses regarding the sale of alcohol throughout North Carolina, and let us share what we’ve found out.

When Does North Carolina Stop Selling Alcoholic Beverages?

Bottles of Liquor on a Store

North Carolina stops selling alcoholic beverages (liquor, wine, and beer) at 2AM, applicable Monday to Saturday, according to the regulations implemented by the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Regarding Sunday sales, you can buy or sell beer from 12PM onwards. But you must know that ABC Stores, where liquor is typically sold, remain closed on Sundays, thus excluding spirit sales.

For on-premise consumption, serving alcohol in North Carolina can only be permitted to an establishment with an active on-premise license from 12PM and must conclude by 2AM.

Take note: Counties and cities in North Carolina retain the authority to establish their own rules, leading to potential variations across different regions.

Additionally, gas stations and grocery stores (convenience stores) in North Carolina can’t sell liquor – only beer and wine. Selling liquor in North Carolina is only allowed in state-run stores [1].

North Carolina Alcohol Selling Hours

Monday- Saturday

You can sip on your favorite beverages in North Carolina from Monday to Saturday until the clock strikes 2AM.

That’s right, night owls – you can purchase alcohol at restaurants, bars, and other licensed retail businesses from 7AM to 2AM.


In North Carolina, alcohol sales begin at 10AM, but you can’t buy liquor after 12PM onwards. ABC stores or any licensed business establishment (like bars and restaurants) can only sell beer after noon.

Beer sales are the most open within the states, allowing you to buy beer at any licensed location (including gas stations, private bars, restaurants, etc.) if they’re open.

Happy Hour

In other states, happy hour typically runs from 5PM to 7PM, so you can buy alcohol (with a discount) within this time frame. But in North Carolina, “alcoholic” happy hour is illegal as of now (only food specials) [2].

“I think it’s very important for us to move forward and have this Happy Hour Bill.” – Jason Ruth, Executive Director for the North Carolina Bar Owners Association

So, you can’t find any “happy hour specials” at any location. But the local authorities are currently working on it.

Understanding North Carolina Alcohol Laws

Liquor Bottles on a Shelf

In North Carolina, licensed premises can sell liquor from 7AM to 2AM Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, you can buy beer only after 12PM.

ABC Stores in North Carolina are closed on Sundays, so only the establishments with active on-premise licenses can sell alcohol, with beer the only alcohol they can serve after 12PM.

The legal drinking age in the state is 21 years old, applying to consuming alcohol, possession of alcohol, and purchase of alcohol.

In North Carolina, selling or serving any alcoholic beverage to individuals below 21 years old, whether on-premise or off-premise consumption, is against the law.

Moreover, parents are not permitted to provide alcohol to their children under 21 years of age.

Only state-run stores are allowed the retail sale of alcohol, including Walmart, which operates as a retailer authorized to sell malt beverages, along with unfortified wine on- and off-premise.

Similarly, Target is allowed for off-and-on-premise sales, with the unfortified wine permit to sell in both contexts.

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Places To Buy Alcohol & Their Last Call

Grocery Stores

In North Carolina, you can purchase beer at grocery stores within the time frame of 7AM to 2AM from Monday to Saturday and post noon on Sundays.

For a grocery store to qualify for off-premise consumption and spirit sales, it must maintain a minimum of $1,500 worth of staple foods such as bread, eggs, and milk.

But just like gas stations, there’s an 80-liter cap on beer purchases at grocery stores.

Gas Stations

Gasoline stations in North Carolina are authorized to sell beer from 7AM to 2AM from Monday to Saturday and post noon on Sundays. There’s a maximum allowance of 80 liters for beer purchases at gas stations.

“Alcohol laws navigate the fine balance between enjoyment and responsibility.” – Liquor Laboratory

These establishments in North Carolina can offer cans and bottles of beer or any malt beverage on-premise, ranging from 12-24 ounces. Additionally, they need a valid permit so customers can buy alcohol off-premise.

Bars & Restaurants

Man Pouring Beer on a Glass

In North Carolina, purchasing beer at bars and restaurants is allowed from 7AM to 2AM Monday through Saturday, with a Sunday start time of 10AM.

These establishments can sell alcohol, like mixed drinks, mainly beers, including drafts, bottles, and cans of various sizes.

Buying beer in its original packaging is allowed off-premise but is subjected to an alcohol tax rate with a general sales tax rate of 4.75%, applying to all beer and wine purchases.

But it’s important to note that happy hour promotions are prohibited in North Carolina.

Breweries & Taprooms

North Carolina grants breweries and taprooms on-premises sales from 7AM Monday through Saturday and noon Sundays.

So, buying beer from these business establishments is allowed for consumption on-site.

They’re also sanctioned to sell kegs and packaged beers for off-premise consumption, provided the items are in their manufacturer’s original container or packaging.

Extra Tip: The sale of fortified wine on-premise is allowed in bars, restaurants, hotels, community theatres, wineries, distilleries, and convention centers.

Sports and entertainment venue sale of unfortified wine is also allowed. Additionally, the sale of unfortified wine on-premise is allowed in cooking schools.

FAQs Related to What Time Does North Carolina Stop Selling Alcohol?

What time do they stop selling beer in North Carolina?

North Carolina stops vending beer at 2AM from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, you can buy beer after 12PM.

What time can you order alcohol online in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, you can place online orders for alcohol according to the permissible sales hours, which are from 7AM to 2AM, Monday through Saturday. Particularly, you can order and buy beer even on Sunday if the stores are open.

Are there different alcohol sales hours for bars and restaurants in North Carolina?

Yes, bars and restaurants in North Carolina may have different alcohol sales hours, with some establishments permitted to serve alcohol until 2:00 AM, while others might have earlier closing times based on local regulations.

Can I continue drinking alcohol after the sales cut-off time in North Carolina?

No, once alcohol sales end at 2:00 AM in North Carolina, individuals are generally not permitted to continue drinking at licensed establishments, and any further alcohol service would be against the law.

Are there any exceptions to the alcohol sales hours in North Carolina?

Some areas or municipalities in North Carolina might have different alcohol sales regulations, so it’s essential to check local ordinances for any exceptions or variations.

Do gas stations and convenience stores have different alcohol sales hours?

No, gas stations and convenience stores in North Carolina typically follow the same alcohol sales hours as other retail establishments, with sales ending at 2:00 AM.

Final Thoughts

In North Carolina, retail establishments, bars, and restaurants offer a range of alcohol, specifically beer options, including cans, bottles, kegs, draft beer, and growlers.

Sales of alcohol are permitted from 7AM to 2AM Monday through Saturday and after noon on Sunday (if you want to buy beer).

But it’s important to note that in North Carolina, a strict zero-tolerance stance is taken against drinking and driving for those under 21 years old.


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