The customer, they always say, is king, and that’s why the coming few months and years are likely to see a battalion of new laws and legislations to protect his right royal highness

VATOn January 1, 2010 the rate of VAT rose to 17.5%. Retailers were given four weeks to change their shelf-edge labels twice the amount of time allowed for the previous VAT rate change.

On January 4, 2011 the VAT rate will increase to 20%. Retailers have welcomed the delay of three days to implement the rate, allowing them more leeway to change the rate on their systems after the busy festive season. Retailers will have a four-week window to change labels, but they are required to display a notice stating that prices advertised may differ from those charged at the counter.

The government's Scores on The Doors hygiene rating scheme for food businesses has been renamed the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) ahead of its national rollout across England, Wales and Northern Ireland this autumn.

The six-tier national scheme, which covers all businesses that sell food with temperature-control requirements, will not be mandatory for local authorities to adopt, but the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is working closely with local authorities to ensure high levels of sign-up.

All food businesses within participating local authority areas will have their scores displayed on the FSA's website.

It will not for the moment be mandatory for businesses to display their scores in-store. However, the government has said that it will keep this voluntary approach under review.

Scotland is progressing with it's own two-tier 'pass/improvement required' scheme.

Some 25 of the 32 Scottish local authorities have so far indicated their intention to implement the two-tier scheme over the next three years.


Understanding the distinction between Best Before and Use By dates is of huge importance to retailers, as one C-Store owner recently learned the hard way when he was fined £3,000.

A 'Best Before' date indicates the point when food may start to decline in quality, but is still safe to eat, so can be displayed and sold, usually at a reduced price.

In contrast, 'Use By' indicates the day after which food, generally chilled products, might actually become harmful, so it is an offence to sell it past this point at any price, and to do so can incur a sizeable financial penalty.

It is also an offence to change a Use By label without authorisation.

Under the Video Recordings Act 2010, retailers must ask for identification if a newspaper contains a DVD that is age-restricted. Attempts to get around this by removing the DVD from the newspaper are also ill-advised as it would breach consumer rights to sell the product without an element that may be advertised on the cover.

The ACS has called for clarification on the removal of DVDs so newspapers can be sold to minors.

Almost 90% of CCTV systems do not fully comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA). For this reason the new government has expressed a desire to better regulate the CCTV industry, which could lead to the development of national CCTV standards. 

Read more:
Legislation: Convenience law
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Legislation: Tobacco
Legislation: Employment
Legislation: Environment
Legislation: In-store music
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