How to sell age restricted items in your store
Preventing underage sales is a legal obligation, so it’s important retailers understand how to manage age restricted items.
A good first step is understanding which products are classed as age restricted recommended and which are legally restricted, so we’ve listed these two product categories below:
Recommended age restricted products
CBD oil products
Adult (pornographic) magazines (18)
Psychoactive substances such a solvent based glue, anti-freeze (18)
Tobacco associated products (18)
Medicines (12, 16)
Legally age restricted products
Fireworks (16, 18)
Aerosol paint (16)
Christmas crackers (12)
DVDs and video games (12, 15, 18)
Tobacco and cigarette papers (18)
Lighter fuel butane (18)
A recommended approach for selling age restricted items is to apply the Challenge 25 policy. Challenge 25 is a retail scheme which is in place to prevent young people from gaining access to age restricted products, such as alcohol or tobacco.
Under the scheme, all retail staff serving customers should be trained to ‘think 25’. Any time a customer is looking to buy an age restricted item, the staff member serving should ask for ID, if they feel the customer looks under the age of 25. If the customer’s ID proves they are old enough to buy the item they wish to purchase, then it can be sold to them.
Forms of ID
When asking customers for ID, the following forms are recommended:
- Photo driving licence
- Proof of Age Standards Scheme
Other legally acceptable forms of ID include:
- Military ID
- Non-UK passports and national identity cards
For guidance on ID acceptance, please visit the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) website: www.pass-scheme.org.uk
Keeping good records
It is recommended that you have a documented store policy which sets out your company’s strategy for preventing underage sales. This will ensure that, should you need to, you can provide the police, the trading standards or licensing officers with proof that you have taken all reasonable precautions to avoid committing an offence.
Records should be accessible to all members of staff, whether this is a paper record or a report on your EPoS system which records every sale refusal when ID hasn’t been obtained.
Once you have your store policy in place, it’s essential that your staff are trained on underage sales before they start serving customers age restricted products without supervision.
As a minimum measure, all new staff should receive an explanation of the company policy and the law. After this new initial training, new staff will need to undergo a question and answer exercise to check they have understood and retained the training given.
They should also undertake at least one hour of directly supervised customer service with an experienced member of staff. Please note that lottery tickets can only be sold by staff aged 16 or over and alcohol must not be sold by anyone under the age of 18.
Displaying age restricted products
Displaying statutory warning notices for tobacco and fireworks is a legal requirement and age restricted items should be stored where they can be monitored by staff.
Fireworks by law must be kept in a secure cabinet and, since April 2015, it has been a legal requirement to cover up your tobacco unless you are serving a customer over the age of 18, after which you must immediately close your display unit via a curtain or sliding door.
Ensuring you have adequate signs to inform consumers of the minimum legal age to purchase is essential. If you apply the Challenge 25 policy in your store, you need to clearly communicate this to customers by using visible Challenge 25 signage in the store which can be downloaded and printed by visiting www.challenge25.co.uk/pos.html
Formal training on selling age restricted products is available, along with an in-depth guide to selling age restricted items, here: www.acs.org.uk/advice/age-restrictions
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