A new report has welcomed progress being made by UK retailers in tackling underage alcohol sales, but highlighted the emergence of a number of challenging trends.
Compiled by the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, the Rising to the Challenge report found that around 850,000 shop workers per year are now given training in how to apply the Challenge 25 initative, leading to ID requests for around 11 million people, 75% of whom are 18-24 year olds.
Since Challenge 25 was introduced in 2006, requiring anyone who is deemed to look under 25 years old to produce ID when buying alcohol, the report found that alcohol consumption among 16-24 year olds has fallen by 24%.
Despite this progress in tackling underage drinking, RASG identified a number of challenges faced by retailers who try to enforce the law. Issues include the verbal or physical abuse experience by staff who refuse customers alcohol and the growing trend of proxy purchasing, which sees other adults buy alcohol on behalf of minors.
As a result, the report has made a series of recommendations, such as extending the Challenge 25 programme to the on-trade and independent sectors, working more closely with the police and government to tackle assaults on staff, and stepping up efforts to prevent proxy purchasing through consumer education and closer ties with local authorities.
Nick Grant, outgoing chair of RASG, welcomed the signs of progress indicated by the report, saying: “Retailers have invested a significant amount of time and resources into ensuring Challenge 25 is a success; including effective training for staff, clear signage and the universal application across all of our stores. So it is pleasing to see the positive progress that has been made in driving down underage alcohol sales through its adoption.”
Meanwhile Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association echoed this praise of the “good progress” being made on what he described as a “key priority for the industry”.
“However,” he continued, “as alcohol has become increasingly difficult for young people to buy directly, there has been a worrying increase in proxy purchasing. More needs to be done in partnership with government, schools and others to tackle this growing problem as it is an issue that retailers are unable to tackle on their own.”
To read a copy of the full report, click here.