In our October newsletter, we mentioned that Christmas was approaching (it gets sooner every year…!) and how the licensed trade could take advantage of the increased footfall the festive period brings with it.
Following on from that we look now at the possible pitfalls of the festive season, and how operators can prevent themselves from falling into them.
Licensing issues aside, the festive period presents a number of operational challenges; from keeping on top of staff and stock levels to planning special festive menus and offerings to attract more customers. However, even although this is a hectic time, operators cannot allow licensing compliance standards to slip.
The first thing to make operators aware of is simple: both Police Scotland and Licensing Standards Officers deploy additional resources at this time of year to ensure compliance. It is therefore highly likely that your premises will be visited over this period to check everything is in order. If you are unsure about anything with regard to your premises, you can consult our licensing checklist. If this flags up any issues the best advice is to not risk it and get in touch with our expert team of licensing lawyers without delay.
It is also worthwhile sitting down and going through your operating plan. Double check your on and off sales hours, your activities and – crucially – whether or not you have said yes to seasonal variations. For more information on seasonal variations, see October’s blog.
Seasonal work is also high at this time of year – with many operators employing students who have returned home from university. It is crucial that all new staff – no matter how short their period of employment – receive the mandatory 2 hours training before they begin to sell alcohol. This training is especially important at this time of year as often people who are out for Christmas parties may not touch alcohol at any other time of year, meaning their tolerance is low. On the other hand, those who have an occasional drink may overdo it. Therefore, careful monitoring of customers is essential and it is worth labouring this point during training.
Operators will also want to make their festive offerings stand-out from competitors with festive packages and promotions. Where such offerings include alcohol it is essential to take specialist legal advice to avoid unintentionally falling foul of minimum unit pricing and irresponsible promotions legislation.
Whilst all of this may seem like yet another burdensome task for an already extremely busy operator, it is essential to conduct a full licensing MOT in advance of this period. This will ensure that your customers can eat, drink and be merry without issue!