Corner shops have been told not to sell Easter eggs - but is it against the rules?

Local authorities have incorrectly told corner shops to stop selling Easter eggs during lockdown.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has accused local officials of “misreading” and “overzealous enforcement” of the government’s rules, after various independent shop owners claimed they were instructed by local council officers on what their shop can and can’t sell.

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Which foods were incorrectly forbidden?

The supposed ‘forbidden’ goods included any product deemed ‘non-essential’ such as Easter treats like hot cross buns and chocolate eggs.

However, The ACS, which represents more than 33,500 shops, has now told its members to ignore the instructions of local enforcement officers and to keep selling Easter goods as normal.

Clarifying the issue, The ACS website has published advice given by Surrey and Buckingham Trading Standards, which states, “All ACS members are able to continue trading throughout the lockdown and play a vital role in keeping our communities looked after in these very difficult times.

“There are no restrictions on the types of goods that ACS members can continue to sell - in effect you should continue with the stock ranges that you would normally have for this time of year (this includes seasonal goods).”

What are the government guidelines for independent shops?

Official government guidelines state that food stores such as supermarkets, newsagents and corner shops are allowed to stay open during the epidemic, unlike fashion retailers and other non-essential businesses, including restaurants and barber shops. The Government has also confirmed that convenience store staff will be included in its list of critical workers.

In a statement, the chief executive of ACS, James Lowman said, “There is no government definition of which products can be sold within those stores. This is overzealous enforcement and a misreading of the rules.

“In the cases where officers have challenged retailers and shoppers in this way, it’s brought confusion, distracted retailers in the busiest weeks of their lives, and increased the interactions between people at a time when the government is trying to minimise them.”

Mr Lowman has advised shop owners facing this challenge to continue as normal and to contact The ACS with the name of the local authority or police force, in order to prevent the spread of misinformation.