It should be easy. Don’t serve anybody under age or anybody who is drunk that’s it, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. 

Your licence requires that you don’t do that whether you are a community retailer or not the same applies for all licensees, after all. So does the requirement to have a stated age-verification policy. So does the requirement to avoid proxy sales. 

But as a community retailer you are expected to do more. One of the worst things that can happen to your business is that you get a name for supplying youngsters under age with alcohol and tobacco products, but the absolutely worst thing is to be successfully prosecuted for doing so! 

Some customers will not know, some may not even care, but the vast silent majority will both know and care, and often where alternatives exist take their custom elsewhere or limit purchases at your store to the bare necessities. Neither is good for business and neither matches your responsibilities as a community retailer. 

As community retailers we need to be proactive in the community, but we also need to be so in the sale of all age-related products, not just alcohol. In many licensing areas there are partnerships between the police, the Licensing Authority and retailers that seek to empower retailers in responsibly selling age-restricted products particularly alcohol, but others too and providing best practice and guidance in doing so. These are worth seeking out and if there isn’t one then talking to your Licensing Authority or Police Licensing Officer is a good second best. 

Of course, the normal things apply regardless: do not sell to ‘adults’ who you believe are supplying to those underage; move on youths hanging around your store or parking areas; and train your staff in what you expect them to do about this in your absence. Try to ensure there is no rubbish lying around outside, either, particularly alcohol containers that can annoy locals. 

Be assured that should an underage sale occur, if you are known to have all the best practice in place then your situation will be much better than a retailer who does not. 

The authorities will do everything possible to prove underage sales occur and then everything to punish those responsible. In seeking these retailers out they often test others of better reputation in the area as well don’t be collateral damage!

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