What time can you buy alcohol in Scotland? Alcohol licensing hours explained

Scotland enacts separate licensing laws to that in England, which means that the rules around buying and selling alcohol are different

Thursday, 27th August 2020, 4:33 pm
This is when you can buy alcohol in Scotland (Photo: Shutterstock)

If a bottle or wine or a case of beer is on your shopping list, make sure you don’t get caught out by Scotland’s licensing laws.

What time can I buy alcohol in Scotland?

You can buy alcohol in a supermarket from between 10am and 10pm each day. Across the rest of the UK this rule doesn’t apply - as long as a supermarket or retailer is open, a customer can buy alcohol.

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On a Sunday, some select stores might restrict this window even further, only choosing to start selling alcohol at 12:30pm.

There are no 24-hour alcohol sellers in Scotland, unlike England and Wales.

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Did lockdown affect when you could buy alcohol?

The gov.scot website revealed changes to alcohol and civic licensing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The website states: “We consider the licensing provisions in the Act to be a pragmatic response to the coronavirus outbreak.”

The statement explains that in some areas, the relevant licensing authority can extend timescales and deadlines.

“In some other areas, discretion is given to excuse the failure to meet a relevant deadline or other procedural step if the relevant authority considers it reasonable,” the announcement explains.

It continued: “As a package, the changes are designed to minimise the chances of licence holders’ right to hold and keep a licence being adversely affected through no fault of their own as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.”

It appeared that most of the changes made in response to the coronavirus affected businesses and retailers rather than people trying to buy alcohol in store.

Can I buy alcohol on Deliveroo?

Food delivery services like Deliveroo and UberEats have been partnering with local shops to open up a new way for you to buy groceries.

Included in these apps is also the option to buy alcohol from the likes of M&S and Co-op, for example.

If you’re buying alcohol this way, you should be prepared to show your ID to the person dropping off your food.

UberEats also states that they won’t deliver alcohol to anyone who is clearly drunk.

What is the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005?

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 is the main piece of legislation that controls the sale of alcohol in Scotland.

The Scottish government website states: “This Act balances the rights of the majority of people who drink responsibly against the need to protect local communities from nuisance and crime associated with the misuse of alcohol.

“It is intended to provide a clear and consistent underpinning for the alcohol licensing regime in Scotland based upon five licensing objectives.”

These objectives are:

- Preventing crime and disorder

- Securing public safety

- Preventing public nuisance

- Protecting and improving public health

- Protecting children and young persons from harm

There are also various laws in Scotland that affect things like the pricing of alcohol, the way it is advertised and the way that it’s sold in stores.

The Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act 2010 states that retailers cannot sell alcoholic products packaged together at a lower price than it would be if the customer bought the same products individually - this is to ensure that shoppers aren’t influenced to buy more alcohol simply because it’s cheaper.

The 2010 Act also restricts the likes of “irresponsible promotions”, such as:

- Buy one, get one free

- Three for the price of two

- Five for the price of four, cheapest free

- Three bottles of wine for £10

- Buy six, get 20% off

A promotion is deemed irresponsible if it “encourages, or seeks to encourage, a person to buy or consume a larger measure of alcohol than the person had otherwise intended to buy or consume”.