National legislation to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s would be welcomed by independent retailers, according to research by C-Store.

Such a move would create a level playing field between stores, and help smaller independent retailers who wished to trade responsibly to remain competitive.

Earlier this month the Co-operative Group joined all of the UK’s major supermarkets and discounters in announcing plans to implement a voluntary ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s in March.

Many independent retailers already operate voluntary bans on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s. But Anita Nye, manager of Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, Kent, said it would be easier with legislation. “We took the decision to stop selling energy drinks to under-16s a couple of years ago. We did it because we were getting primary school children coming in for cans, which just felt wrong to us. The problem is that other local shops do sell them the energy drinks.

“It would be much easier if there was national legislation so that it was against the law for everyone.”

Bipin Harria, owner of Seaford News in East Sussex, agreed, even though he has not implemented a similar ban. “Energy drinks are a massive market for us, particularly in the mornings when teenagers pop in on their way to school. I’m aware of the supermarkets’ plans to ban sales to under-16s, but I won’t be following suit yet. Doing so would really hit my sales and footfall and it wouldn’t stop the teenagers from consuming energy drinks as they’d just go to one of the many other stores on our high street and buy them in there.

“If the government made it illegal for energy drinks to be sold to under-16s, there would be a level playing field.”

He also criticised the low price of energy drinks, which was a big driver for under-16s. “A can of Euroshopper energy drink costs just 35p, much cheaper than a bottle of water or fruit juice,” he said.

Same rules for all

“We don’t have a policy on energy drink sales. It would be better if the government just banned sales to under-16s so there would be a level playing field for retailers.”

Jamie Patel, Weybridge News, Surrey

“We don’t have a strict under-16s policy, but we don’t sell to primary school children. We would support legislation to ban sales to under-16s outright as it would make it much easier for us to police.”

Charles Brading, Vic’s Stores, Nettlestone, Isle of Wight