10 regulations every retailer must follow

From consumer rights to employment regulations, understanding and adhering to these laws is crucial for retailers to thrive in the UK market

Operating a retail business in the UK entails complying with a comprehensive set of laws and regulations to ensure legal compliance, protect consumers, and uphold ethical standards. 

From consumer rights to employment regulations, understanding and adhering to these laws is crucial for retailers to thrive in the UK market. 

Here are 10 mandatory laws that every retailer must follow in the UK:

  1. Consumer Rights Act 2015

In 2008 the University of East Anglia concluded that the UK consumer protection regime had two key weaknesses – uneven enforcement and excessively complex law. Following other various reports — such as a consultation of the Law Commission in 2009 — the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) consulted in August 2012 to clarify consumer rights in goods, services and digital content. 


The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015. It establishes key rights and protections for consumers when purchasing goods and services in the UK. It covers areas such as the right to return faulty products, the right to a refund, and protections against unfair contract terms. Retailers must ensure that their practices align with the provisions of this legislation to avoid potential legal repercussions.

  1. Consumer Contracts Regulations (CCR) 2013

Being in effect since 13 June 2014, the CCR 2013 applies to all consumer contracts and requires online traders to provide the following information to consumers:

  • A description of the goods, services, or digital content and if there is an ongoing commitment, for example, a subscription, how long this will apply for
  • How much the goods, services, or digital content will cost and how this cost is calculated
  • How payment is to be made plus any additional charges such as delivery charges and taxes
  • How goods can be returned if the customer changes their mind and who pays for any costs of returning the products (the usual cooling off period being 14 days)
  • Details of cancellation rights plus a model cancellation form for the customer to use if they wish to cancel the contract
  • Details concerning the compatibility of digital content with hardware and other software
  1. General Product Safety Regulations 2005

According to the Government, this regulation aims at “ensuring the safety of consumer goods by setting requirements and providing a range of provisions to secure compliance and enforcement with the requirements”.

It requires retailers to ensure that the products they sell are safe for consumer use, therefore retailers must conduct risk assessments, provide appropriate warnings and instructions, and take prompt action to remove unsafe products from the market. Retailers also have a duty to report an enforcement authority about the risks and the action taken to prevent risk to the consumer.

  1. Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 

The Health and Safety at Work Act places a legal duty on employers, including retailers, to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees and customers. Retailers are therefore legally required to provide safe premises, maintain equipment, and conduct staff training. Risk assessments are also crucial to identify and mitigate hazards effectively. 

Proper facilities like toilets and drinking water must be provided, with employees sharing responsibility for cleanliness. Appointing a competent person to oversee health and safety ensures compliance with regulations, involving routine inspections and liaising with safety representatives.

Failure to comply with health and safety regulations can result in fines and legal sanctions.

  1. National Minimum Wage Act 1998

The National Minimum Wage Act sets out the minimum wage rates that employers must pay their workers in the UK. 

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) framework includes different pay levels depending upon a person’s age. The act sets out different pay bands depending on the workers’ age — 25 and over, 21 to 22, 18 to 20, under 18 as well as an apprentice rate.

Retailers must ensure that they pay their employees at least the statutory minimum wage rates applicable to their age group and employment status. Failure to comply with minimum wage requirements can lead to financial penalties and reputational damage.

  1. Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act officially came into force on 1 October 2010 replacing a series of anti-discrimination laws that developed over more than 40 years since the first Race Relations Act in 1965. 

The Act legally prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the basis of personal characteristics such as age, gender, race, disability, and religion or belief. At work the law protects employees against discrimination on all fronts, including dismissal, employment terms and conditions, pay and benefits, promotion and transfer opportunities, training, recruitment and redundancy. 

Retailers must ensure that their policies, practices, and treatment of employees and customers are non-discriminatory, take steps to prevent it and look after the wellbeing of their employees

  1. Data Protection Act 2018 (UK GDPR)

The Data Protection Act 2018 was officially approved on 25 May 2018 as a modernisation of what once was the Data Protection Act 1998. At the time, DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock said: “The Data Protection Act gives people more control over their data, supports businesses in their use of data, and prepares Britain for Brexit.

“In the digital world, strong cyber security and data protection go hand in hand. The 2018 Act is a key component of our work to secure personal information online.”

The Data Protection Act 2018 incorporates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into UK law and governs the processing of personal data. The Act sets new standards for protecting general data, in accordance with the GDPR, giving people more control over use of their data, and providing them with new rights to move or delete personal data.

Retailers must comply with data protection principles, obtain consent for data processing activities, and protect individuals’ rights regarding their personal data. 

  1. Licensing Act 2003 

The Licensing Act 2003 was born after the Government published a White Paper in April 2000 campaigning for a reform in alcohol and entertainment licensing. 

The Act provides a system of regulation for the sale and supply of alcohol, entertainment, and late-night refreshment in England and Wales. The system of licensing is achieved through the provision of authorisations through personal licences, premises licences, club premises certificates and temporary event notices.

Retailers selling alcohol must hold the appropriate premises licence or personal licence and comply with licensing conditions regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol on their premises.

  1. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013

The WEEE Regulations aim to reduce the environmental impact of electrical and electronic equipment by promoting the reuse, recycling, and recovery of waste products. 

Distributors of EEE, including retailers selling electrical and electronic goods, must comply with requirements regarding the collection, treatment, and disposal of WEEE, including registering with a WEEE compliance scheme and providing information to customers about recycling options. They also must ensure that their WEEE is segregated and sent for recovery at an approved authorised treatment facility (AATF). 

In addition, retailers of EEE must join the Distributor Take-back Scheme (DTS) if not offering a service to take back WEEE free of charge themselves. 

  1. Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021

The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 followed a Government consultation in 2019 on restricting the promotion of foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS). Previous research conducted by Public Health England had highlighted how food promotions are effective at influencing people’s spending behaviour, and that to help tackle obesity it was therefore essential to prevent displays and promotions of unhealthy foods. 

The 2021 Act does just that: it aims to regulate the promotion and placement of food products in England. These regulations enforce restrictions on the advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods, particularly targeting children. They restrict promotions of HFSS foods by volume price — for example with multi-buy offers — and key locations, including store entrances, aisle ends and checkouts. 

By influencing how food products are promoted and positioned, the regulations were given the go ahead to strive to improve public health outcomes in the population, especially among children and adolescents. Retailers that fail to comply with the regulations face being issued with a fixed monetary penalty.

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