Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Underage alcohol sales have fallen, but proxy purchasing is rising

Published:  17 June, 2014

Retailers have made major progress in driving down underage alcohol sales, but proxy purchasing is on the increase, according to a new report.

The report examines how effective the drinks trade's Challenge 25 initiative has been, and shows that the number of young people who said they had a drink in the last week has fallen by 18%, with consumption among 16 to 24 year olds down 24%.

Challenge 25Challenge 25 has been successful in driving down underage drinkingThe initiative has seen 11 million people asked for ID since its 2006 launch, but proxy purchasing is a growing problem.

Since the scheme's 2006 introduction 11 million people have been challenged to provide ID, including 75% of 18 to 24 year olds. Almost 90% of 18 to 24 year olds are aware of the scheme while eight out of 10 people support retailers who adopt it.

Challenge 25, a voluntary scheme, requires anyone over the age of 18, who looks under 25, to produce an acceptable form of ID when purchasing alcohol. It has since been adopted by all major UK supermarkets and the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) which administers the scheme has brought its latest findings together in the Rising to the Challenge report.

But the report also revealed some areas for improvement:  including the lack of a single approach - some in the on-trade operate Challenge 21; abuse directed towards staff when customers are refused a sale and an increasing incidence of proxy purchasing.

The report recommends that:

  • Challenge 25 should continue to be promoted to the on-trade and independent retailers
  • Challenge 25

  • More work should be done with police to crackdown on assaults on staff - including creation of a new offence of assaulting shopworkers
  • Better education and local partnership working around proxy purchasing
  • Targeted promotion of the scheme in areas with lowest uptake

Nick Grant, outgoing chair of the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, said:  "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."

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: "Tackling underage sales of alcohol is a key priority for the industry and this report demonstrates good progress is being made thanks to Challenge 25.

"However, 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."