The Christmas present age restriction checklist

Friday, 9 December 2016  |  Admin

Brits have well and truly started splashing the cash for this year’s festive period. The Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend alone saw an estimated £1.3 billion spent on Christmas presents from retailers offering rock-bottom price deals.

And while it’s the season of cheer and good will, it’s important for retailers to remember lots of presents on the market carry age restrictions because these days, it’s not only parents buying for children. Lots more young people are taking to the stores – and online – to buy presents for family and friends, meaning retailers need to be more wary of the risks of selling underage products to minors.

Here’s a reminder of the products you need – and don’t need – to remember to ask for ID for…

  1. Blu-rays: From classic movies to this year’s big blockbusters, blu-rays and DVDs will be in high demand this Christmas – but for any films rated 12, 15 or 18 remember to make sure that the customer is of least the corresponding age before selling the product.


  1. Video games: Video games are popular gifts every Christmas, but many of this year’s best-selling ones will be marked 12, 16 or 18 – meaning it’s an offence to sell these to customers under these ages. Retailers should note if any of the games consoles they sell come as part of a gift package and what rating these games are. There is also the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) classification, which indicates one of the following age levels: 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18 – however the PEGI ratings are for guidance only.


  1. Knives: It’s illegal to sell knives to anyone under 18 – and it’s important for retailers to note any gift sets that may contain such sharp objects. For example, cheese boards and cooking sets may include knives and as such cannot be sold to customers who aren’t able to prove they’re at least 18-years-old.


  1. Imitation firearms: Kids might enjoy dressing up as cowboys or superheroes, but toy guns are off limits to young customers. This is because unrealistic imitation firearms – such as toy guns – cannot be sold to anyone under 18. It’s also illegal for a person under 18 to purchase an imitation firearm, for example a ball bearing weapon like a BB gun.


  1. Beauty products: Any retailers selling beauty treatments and products need to brush up on their knowledge of age restricted products. For example, if anyone is after a set of pearly whites this Christmas, they will need to be 18 or over to purchase and use teeth whitening treatments.


  1. Alcohol: Christmas is the perfect time for a celebration and tipple. As most retailers will be aware, it’s illegal for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, but buying or attempting to buy alcohol for someone under 18 – known as a ‘proxy sale’ – is also an illegal offence. If any of your customers are lucky enough to look under 25, best practice states you should ask for ID. However, for people working in bars or restaurants, the law is slightly different as anyone aged between 16 and 18 can drink wine, beer or cider with a table meal in a licensed premises if it’s purchased by an adult.


  1. Christmas crackers: Perhaps most surprisingly, the humble Christmas cracker carries an age restriction. As they’re classed as category 1 fireworks, customers have to be at least 12-years-old to buy them. This is one of the only age restricted laws that is determined by EU law, and in the light of Brexit we may see the rules around this relax in future years, which is something for retailers to watch out for.  

Don’t be such a humbug if you’re selling…

  1. Board games: Some of this year’s most popular board games, such as Cards Against Humanity and Speak Out, come with minimum age suggestions of 16 or 17. However, there is no official legal requirement to only sell these games to people over this age and these are simply recommended guidelines from the manufacturer. The only legislation concerning toys, other than imitation firearms, are those that concern small parts, which must state they are not suitable for children under 36 months old.


  1. Liqueur chocolates: Before 2015, it was illegal for liqueur confectionary containing up to 200ml of alcohol per kilogram of chocolate to be sold to shoppers aged under 16. However, the government recently introduced new laws scrapping this age restriction in a bid to tackle red tape. So whether you stock rum truffles or whiskey chocolates, you don’t need to ask for ID from your customers.


  1. Nutmeg: Until earlier this year, it was actually illegal to sell nutmeg – yes, nutmeg – to anyone under the age of 18. This was because consuming too much of it can act as a hallucinogen. The law has now been scrapped though, meaning customers of any age are fine to buy this popular Christmas spice of their baking and festive treats.