The Home Office recently conducted a wave of checks focusing on suspect retailers and pubs - and the results of the stings, which will be published on Monday, will come as a relief to retail bosses. They will show fewer than a quarter of the outlets tested sold booze to underage customers. Of 224 problem premises targeted, just 54, or 24%, failed.
However, while retail bosses will be keen to emphasise publicly that the majority of premises passed muster, behind the scenes they will warn store operators against complacency as they have been told by the Home Office that similar waves of stings could take place.
The stings were conducted in 27 regions nationwide by the Home Office's Police and Crime Standards Unit as part of an exercise outside its standard Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC).
They took place at on- and off-trade outlets identified by police and Trading Standards as 'problem premises' based on previous failures and local intelligence. In the latest drive, each premises was tested over a three week period. If it passed in weeks one and two, it was not tested again in the third week. The 54 outlets that failed will now have their licences reviewed.
Results of a wave of AMEC tests in the summer revealed that one in five minors taking part in Trading Standards operations were able to buy alcohol in off-licences.
One in three could purchase at pubs and bars.
The ACS is taking steps to raise awareness of the test purchasing process and is set to send out a pack offering advice to members.
Meanwhile, the No ID No Sale campaign begins seminars next week designed to update retailers.
The first event is in Cardiff on 14 November with further events scheduled for Watford, Stirling, Leeds, Ballymena, Taunton and Birmingham.