Lingerie shop legal issues

The following is an overview of some of the legislation that might be relevant to your lingerie retail business. The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

What licences does a lingerie shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to lingerie retailers.

Be aware though that if background music is played in the shop then you will probably need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website.

In most parts of the UK, adult sex shops need a licence from their local authority and must stick to certain licensing conditions covering things like window displays. However, a typical lingerie shop - even one selling erotic lingerie - would not need a sex shop licence. The great majority of Ann Summers shops, for example, are not licensed. If you're in any doubt though it's best to contact your local authority trading standards department to make sure.

Retailing

There is a wide range of legislation that applies to retailers to protect the consumer and to require businesses to operate in a fair and honest way. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Selling online

If you sell goods online there's special legislation that applies to your business. It covers matters like the information you must give on your website, distance selling, 'cooling off' periods and email privacy.

There's detailed guidance on your general legal obligations to consumers, and on the specific requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website. Information about 'distance selling' legislation for online retailers is also available on the Gov.uk website.

Further information

The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) website includes an overview of the rules and regulations that affect the fashion industry as a whole, although much of this applies to importers and manufacturers rather than retailers.

Carrier bag charge

A 5 pence charge applies in England, but small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees) are exempt. You can get detailed guidance from the gov.uk website.

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. There is detailed guidance on the Gov.Wales and Zero Waste Scotland websites.

In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a lingerie shop

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • premises, premises contents and stock
  • goods in transit (for example being collected from suppliers)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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