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In a busy store, it can be tough to maintain vigilance when it comes to underaged sales, however there is support available.

In its advice to retailers, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) recommends a Challenge 25 approach to underaged sales.

Its advice puts forward several ways of approaching the situation:

  • Deflection: such as stating that it’s company policy to ask for identification
  • Flattery: Breaking tension by stating they look young
  • Constructive: Providing advice as to why they can’t be served

Intervention

The ACS advises retail staff to attempt early intervention when it comes to age-related sales, and that if they see someone they suspect to be underage to make an early, non-confrontational intervention to them such as asking if they need help. Making it clear that it’s company policy to ask for identification rather than an individual’s decision may also help. The ACS guidance also suggests removing yourself from the situation should the customer threaten or abuse you. According to USDAW research from 2019, 29% of incidents of abuse or violence were triggered by age-related sales, so it’s vital that staff stay safe. If the customers becomes threatening or abuse, call for help, report it to a manager and to the authorities.

When it comes to proxy sales, the guidance suggests that if you see the adult asking the child about what they want or if the child’s behaviour suggests the product is for them, the staff member should refuse the sale. It also suggests monitoring outside the store as much as possible as people may be asked outside.

Steps to checking identification

  1. Check the photograph so that it is the correct person
  2. Check the date of birth is appropriate for the product
  3. Check the document hasn’t been tampered and is appropriate identification (passport, driving licence, PASS card)
  4. Check the PASS hologram (if applicable)
  5. Check the person to ensure you are confident they are old enough to buy the product

Record keeping

ACS recommends having a document on file that sets out the company policy on underage sales that is accessible for all staff. It also advises keeping a record of all staff training as well as a list of all refusals which covers the date, time, product, member of staff and reason for refusal.