We were recently visited by two Trading Standards officers who were ‘doing the rounds’ with a specific agenda – in this case, age restricted products and to check best before/sell by dates. Trading Standards are an enforcement authority with a wide spectrum of duties from the previously mentioned to tackling counterfeit goods and rogue traders

I am always happy for TSO’s to visit because if we are not doing something right we need to know and one of Trading Standards roles is to offer guidance to traders on regulatory issues.

On this visit I was very happy to talk the two officers though our Age Restricted Product policy. When we joined Spar last October we installed Spar POS which has a sound system for preventing underage sales. I demonstrated the process to our visitors and explained how the information about refusals is recorded. I then explained how we train all our till staff on the issue.

I used the opportunity to ask about their latest Test Purchase operation and was told that the number of failures had fallen to the lowest that they had ever recorded – good news for our channel.

Moving on to the Tobacco Display Ban legislation I expressed my concerns about the practicality of replenishment and asked how they would be enforcing the details of the law when/if it comes in to force. They told me that as yet they don’t see how it can be enforced.

Interesting.

I went on to talk about what is happening in Australia with the recent announcement of more restrictions on tobacco there including the introduction of plain packaging from July 2012 as well as a huge hike in tax.

They then checked through our chilled display cabinet and to my satisfaction found no out of date products – we check our display everyday and record what comes off. The older TSO then told me about a store they had visited where the display was only checked three times per week and they removed several baskets full from the display. Their visit changed the store’s policy and improved consumer safety, and protecting the consumer defines Trading Standards role in this country.

The two officers left our store very happy with what they found and we keep our good record with them.