An overwhelming majority of independent retailers think the government should introduce a national ID card to end confrontations at the checkout over the sale of lottery tickets, alcohol and tobacco to minors.

More than three quarters (77%) of independent retailers, polled by telephone for The Grocer’s latest reader panel, thought a national ID card should be introduced to take the onus away from staff, who currently have to make a judgement based on how old the customer looks.

Just over a third of retailers polled (37%) said they had problems dealing with children attempting to buy restricted products, while 36% said staff had suffered abuse when they refused to sell goods to customers they suspected of being under age.

However, less than one in five stores had faced test purchasing by trading standards officials.

The comments come in the wake of a recent public consultation led by Home Secretary David Blunkett on the merits of introducing a national identity card.

A Home Office spokesman said Blunkett was trying to get cabinet agreement for such a scheme to go ahead.