Retailers still rising to the challenge

07 September, 2007

Thirty is the new 18, stores take a flyer and police praise county in latest round-up of initiatives

Convenience retailer Smile

Stores has adopted a Challenge 30 policy at its shops in Bath - and reported a 100 per cent test purchase pass rate as a result.

The group's operations executive Nick Lloyd said problems with under-age drinks sales had prompted it to

make the move in its Bath shops and introduce Challenge 25 at its other stores in April.

He said: "It was quite a bold move, but one of the things that drove us to do it was reading that a survey by Asda had found that people found it hard to guess the age of young people.

"We carry out our own test purchases using 18-year-olds and, even though they are 18, our staff say they look 21."

Lloyd said the first four weeks of

the new policy were "quite tough" but

customers had since responded well. He added that all the Bath stores passed test purchases carried out by Avon & Somerset police and Trading Standards last month and were consistently passing internal test purchases.

Meanwhile, Tesco is testing a Challenge 30 policy at 10 shops in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Customers buying alcohol at convenience stores in Dundee last weekend were given sensible drinking advice with their purchases.

The Scottish Grocers' Federation produced Be Healthy, Drink Safely leaflets, which were handed out at 17

stores from Friday to Sunday night.

SGF chief executive John Drummond said the idea was to help consumers make more informed decisions about their drinking. He added: "Through initiatives such as this we can show that a convenience store can be both a safe and secure outlet for alcohol and a responsible member of the community they serve.

"It is part of our effort to highlight the positive contribution local shops make to communities."

The SGF plans to roll the initiative out to all of Scotland's 5,500 convenience stores this Christmas and New Year.

The Association of Convenience Stores will launch a similar trial this weekend. Leaflets supported by brewer Scottish & Newcastle will be distributed at 40 member stores

in Bristol .

Drinks shops in

Lincolnshire have been praised by police after a test purchase operation. Twelve of the 13 premises visited by a 15-year-old test purchaser

in August passed the stings, and staff in three

shops challenged the boy before he reached the till.

PC Pete MacLeod, of Lincolnshire Police, said: "It's absolutely brilliant to see staff carrying out correct procedures."

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