Home > Online alcohol sales & deliveries: a survey of young people in Scotland.

Alcohol Focus Scotland. (2022) Online alcohol sales & deliveries: a survey of young people in Scotland. Glasgow: Alcohol Focus Scotland.

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The majority of children and young people in Scotland report that they do not regularly drink alcohol and it has become much less common for young people to buy alcohol directly from a shop, supermarket, or off-licence. This would suggest that measures to prevent and discourage children and young people from purchasing alcohol within physical premises, such as laws restricting the sale of alcohol to minors and mandatory age verification policies (e.g., Challenge 25), have had some success. However, much less is known about the extent to which children and young people might be attempting to purchase alcohol online, for delivery, thereby negating the need to visit a licensed premise.

Alcohol deliveries and internet sales are not a new issue but are an evolving and expanding area of retail. The types of businesses that sell alcohol online now range from small independent traders, specialist drinks retailers/clubs, local convenience stores, and supermarkets through to multinational e-commerce companies (e.g., Amazon). There is also a growing variety of app-based retailers who have arrangements with restaurants, takeaways and off-licences to deliver alcohol directly to people’s homes. The COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions have accelerated the general trend to online shopping. Despite the reopening of physical stores, it is predicted that online sales will remain high as people have become more accustomed to online shopping.

AFS ran an anonymous online survey for young people, under the age of 18, for four weeks in February-March 2022. It was widely promoted through social media and via youth sector organisations, Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, and local licensing forums. A total of 215 responses were received, 196 of the which met the required survey criteria (aged under 18). The average age of respondents within the required age range was 14.7 years, and responses were received from 19 of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland.

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