Needlecrafts shop legal issues

Woman in hat looking through various bundles of wool on shelf with woman in background

All retailing businesses have to comply with a certain amount of legislation, much of it to protect the rights of the consumer. The following is an overview of what might be relevant to you.

What licences does a needlecraft shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to needlecraft shops.

Bear in mind though that if you want to play background music in your shop then it's likely you'll 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.

Protecting original knitwear designs

You should be aware of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. This gives copyright protection to original designs, including 'artistic copyright'. You can find out more about copyright law on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) section of the website.


There is a range of legislation that applies to retail outlets (and online retailers) to protect the interests of the consumer. 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.

There is detailed information for businesses on many different aspects of consumer protection law on the and Trading Standards Business Companion websites.

Distance selling

If you plan to sell goods online - through your own website and/or through eBay or another e-commerce platform like Amazon, or through an online marketplace like Folksy - then you must comply with the requirements of distance selling rules and e-commerce regulations. Distance selling rules also apply to catalogue and other mail order sales. You can find out more on the website. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website.

Carrier bag charge

A minimum 10p charge applies for single-use carrier bags in England (other rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). You can get detailed guidance from the GOV.UK website.

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 needlecrafts 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:

  • employer's liability
  • public liability
  • premises, premises contents and stock (including any garments being knitted up by outworkers)
  • goods in transit (for example to cover goods being collected from suppliers)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • product liability
  • motor insurance (for business vehicles)

It is worth noting that the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) offers retail and business insurance services to its members.

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