C-Stores Making Progress on Eliminating Underage Sales

New figures out today from ONS and the NHS have shown that there’s been real progress made by retailers in reducing the sale of restricted products like cigarettes to young people. This is something that the sector should be proud of - in the past there has been a stigma surrounding convenience stores that suggested that they were a haven for young people buying alcohol and tobacco, but this is far from the truth. 

The convenience sector has actually often led the rest of the retail industry when it comes to implementing policies in store to prevent underage sales. Successful initiatives like Challenge 25 were put in place in convenience stores first and then adopted elsewhere after they were shown to be effective. There are also other schemes in place in the sector like Community Alcohol Partnerships, the Proof of Age Standards Scheme and Citizencard which all help to educate retailers and staff on what to look out for when selling products responsibly, in turn reducing the level of alcohol related harm in a local area. 

At ACS, the centrepiece of our Assured Advice for retailers is our guidance on age restricted sales, which is by far the most downloaded advice guide at ACS.org.uk with over 20,000 downloads. The guidance, which you can download free here, has been well received within the sector and sets out the main things that staff should do in store to avoid selling to underage customers, including the types of ID that are acceptable, what to look out for when someone appears underage, the different age restrictions on different products that could be sold in store and ways that staff can defuse a situation when refusing a sale. 

One of the areas that our guidance covers is spotting potential proxy sales. This is an area that is often difficult to police in store, but today’s report shows that there is still an issue with young people gaining access to tobacco and alcohol by getting it from older friends or relatives, so it’s something that the industry needs to work together on to reduce, both in terms of education to adults and frequent training for staff so that that they’re assessing every sale in store and looking for clues to see whether that person may be buying for someone underage.

Overall, while today’s report shows that there has been progress in the battle against underage sales, it is clear that there is still more to do to ensure that retailers and their staff in all stores across our sector have consistent procedures in place to eliminate the sale of restricted products to young people and get it right every time. As a sector, we’re all still learning about what works on the ground and there are new technologies and procedures evolving all the time to help, so if you’ve got a tip for something in store that works that we could share with other retailers we want to hear from you. Email us at acs@acs.org.uk with your best practice ideas. 

This entry was posted by Chloe on Thu, 02/11/2017 - 15:52