ACS launches expanded Challenge25 campaign to support colleagues in local shops

ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has launched a new campaign to boost awareness of Challenge25 among consumers and support colleagues in local shops selling age restricted products.

Challenge25 is a long running successful policy created to support colleagues who are doing their job by enforcing the law on age restricted sales. The policy, which urges colleagues to check for proof of age for anyone that might look 25 or under, is most commonly used for alcohol purchases but also applies to all other age restricted products.

Awareness of Challenge25 among the general public is strong, with 7 in 10 consumers currently aware of what the Challenge25 policy is for (Yonder consumer polling, adults aged 18-34, November 2021). There’s also widespread use of Challenge25 materials in local shops, although this is primarily at till points, meaning that the first time consumers are aware of the policy is when they make a purchase.

The Challenge25 campaign, launched today (January 18th) by ACS, aims to widen the use of Challenge25 for age restricted products beyond alcohol, and highlight Challenge25 to customers earlier in their journey in a store.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops have a fantastic track record of preventing underage sales and promoting responsible retailing, but much of the focus on this activity is often on alcohol. Through this campaign, we’re working with retailers to highlight the importance of a robust Challenge25 policy that empowers colleagues and is consistently applied for all age restricted products.

“We know from our Crime Report that enforcing the law on age restricted sales is one of the biggest triggers of abuse in stores, so it’s essential that we provide as much support to colleagues as possible by reducing the risk of confrontation. We can take steps toward this by boosting the understanding and application of Challenge25 among consumers and retailers alike.”

As part of the campaign, ACS is working with RASG (the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group) to provide a range of new materials which remind customers that they’re likely to be asked for proof of age if they look under 25 and are purchasing different age restricted products. The new materials include posters, shelf edge labels and online assets on alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes, fireworks and lottery. All materials are available to download at www.acs.org.uk/challenge25

Hardish Purewal, RASG chair said: “The Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) are the creators of Challenge25 and are only too pleased to help the ACS create product specific posters to raise awareness in the convenience sector. These types of posters have proved to be a great asset in our work to clamp down on underage sales and support retail colleagues in the operation of age verification. The new C25 posters will be available on the RASG website and will continue to be free for anyone to download.”

Michele Manson, business team Mmanager at Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards, said: “Age restrictions are used to protect the health and wellbeing of those who attempt to purchase whilst underage and local communities who may be impacted by anti-social behaviour as a result. Buckinghamshire and Surrey trading standards support the Challenge25 initiative as a positive and proactive move retailers can make to minimise the risk of illegal sales.”  

Dan Thomson, Vice President, EMEA, Juul Labs said: “Juul Labs UK’s mission is to transition the millions of British adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes, eliminate their use, and combat underage usage of our products. We are pleased to support the Association of Convenience Stores in its efforts to reinforce “Challenge 25” amongst retailers and we welcome the publication of the Assured Advice around e-cigarette sales. We require all retailers stocking JUUL products to enforce “Challenge 25” protocols and we regularly audit stores to ensure adherence with this policy. Addressing age-verification compliance remains critical in restricting underage access to tobacco products, including vapour products.”

Camelot’s head of retail operations, Julie Brian, said: “We’re delighted to be part of ACS’s Challenge25 campaign. The initiative provides a broad range of tools and support for local shops selling age-restricted products – helping National Lottery retailers prevent underage sales of Scratchcards and lottery tickets, which is a key priority for us at Camelot. Along with our own initiatives to support stores in this area, such as our Responsible Retailing and Operation 18 mystery shopper programmes, we know the expanded Challenge25 campaign will go a long way in ensuring National Lottery players continue raising over £30m each week for Good Causes in a responsible way.”

ACS is also supporting retailers and colleagues that sell age restricted products through updates to its Assured Advice guide on Preventing Underage Sales and the launch of a new guide on E-Cigarettes, both reflecting the importance of using Challenge25 in store to greatly reduce the risk of an underage sale taking place. Assured Advice is backed by Surrey and Buckinghamshire Trading Standards in England, and Shared Regulatory Services in Wales, providing an easy to follow set of standards that retailers can trust.  All of the Assured Advice guides are available at ACS.org.uk.