27 June, 2008

Over-the-counter only will mean more risky sales

Oh no, here we go again. Not content with driving up "Challenge" limits and demanding excessive levels of record-keeping on attempted under-age purchase, the police - or one high profile one at least - come up with another ridiculous piece of suggested rule-making to cloud the whole under-age drinking issue (OLN, June 13).

Introducing a blanket system of over-the-counter sales with no displays will make it more likely, not less, for under-pressure retailers to risk serving borderline cases. Imagine a scenario on a busy Friday night where people are trying to make choices from a vast range of products through a hole in a wall of perspex, via a sales assistant who's got to check and re-check that the product they've got their hands on is the one the customer wants, not the one next to it.

Now, imagine you're the sort of retailer who's occasionally willing to take the risk rather than follow proper procedures with sales to young people. The queue's building up and you can see customers starting to get impatient. Are you more or less likely to ask for ID?

One way around this is to have more staff - placing an extra burden on the costs of the business and probably sending some into the zone where they can't afford to trade at all.

Another small-business community resource bites the dust and another victory for Tesco.

John Payne


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