Lawyer welcomes Government plans to give retail sector a boost

Government proposals announced today (Thursday) to boost the retail sector by cutting red tape have been welcomed by a leading South West lawyer. South West retailers would be among those to benefit from a Government drive to help the economy recover by – among other things – simplifying laws on the sale of age-restricted goods.

Louise Workman, Partner and Head of Retail at Ashfords LLP, said: “In recent years, the retail sector has been hammered by measures such as increasing VAT to 20 per cent and a change in consumer spending habits in an environment where we are all having to tighten our belts. The South West boasts many fantastic shopping destinations. However, as in most places, the recession has still had an impact.

“For that reason, it is extremely reassuring that the Government recognises the importance of the retail sector in helping the economy to recover and is willing to help ease the pressure on retailers by simplifying complex laws. Of course, it is vitally important that we have legislation in place to prevent dangerous goods from being sold to the young.

“However, there are currently more than 20 pieces of legislation governing the sale of age-restricted goods, which can prove a real headache for retailers. Current penalties for breaching the legislation can range from a hefty fine – varying between £1,000 to £5,000 (a cost that would have a particular impact on small, independent shops) – to a prison sentence of between six months and two years.”

Age-restricted goods include fireworks, caps for toy guns, Christmas crackers, knives (including kitchen knives), computer games, DVDs, gas lighter refills, solvents, lottery tickets, cross bows, air rifles, aerosol paints, party poppers, liqueur chocolates and petrol. There are also laws governing the sale of “poisons”, which apply to retailers selling common household cleaning products.