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Knife Sales – At the sharp end

Retailers who sell knives can expect test purchasing visits over the coming months as part of a nationwide crackdown on knife crime.

With age-related sales back on the agenda, Martin Coles-Evans from Hargreaves & Son Limited shares his top tips as a retailer selling knives.

What have been your experiences with age related sales?

As one of the main high quality stores in the area, our cookshop department offers a comprehensive choice of knives in the mid to high price range. The university in the town centre is well known locally and nationally for its hotel catering course and we often get students who wish to buy knives from us if they do not buy directly from the university. As a result we are very well aware of young people purchasing knives and have fully trained staff to always check anyone who looks under the age of 25 or over this age if they feel necessary.

Have you ever been test purchased?

Yes we have and regularly. Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire Trading Standards are very active regarding sales of knives and legislation. They offer seminars and guidance for store owners who require advice and information.

What are your major concerns about selling knives?

As long as you have systems in place for checking and logging age restricted sales and refusals at point of sale, good security and fully trained staff, then there should be no major concerns about selling knives. If these are not in place you run the risk of heavy fines and possible prison sentences – a position no one wants to be in.

Martin’s advice for members:

  • My advice for those who are considering selling knives is to do plenty of research beforehand.
  • Make sure you fully understand the current legislation through Government websites with advice and training from the local trading standard office.
  • Make sure your knives are presented in store securely in a position to eliminate theft.
  • Ensure every staff member (including store owners) are fully trained to safely and confidently sell knives and understand the law.
  • Have systems in place to log any refusals to show compliance when you have an inspection.
  • Refresh and retrain staff often.
  • Have good signage for proof of age restrictions for customers to see. bira members can obtain free POS signage for this and is well worth taking advantage of.
  • Lastly, don’t be scared. Most people are flattered when you ask for proof of age!