Sports shop legal issues

Woman holding roller blade and purple helmet in sports shop

Most sports goods aren't covered by any specific pieces of legislation. However, if you plan to stock bicycles, you should be aware of consumer protection legislation and of special safety legislation relating to new bicycles sold in the UK. This includes the Pedal Cycle Safety Regulations which set out safety standards for new bicycles. Cycle helmets must also meet safety standards.

If you sell any type of food product (for example energy bars and drinks) you will be affected by food safety legislation.

Be aware that it is an offence to sell knives or blades to young people under the age of 18, and that knife dealers in Scotland (with some exceptions) must be licensed. Knives such as hunting, fishing and diving knives are likely to be covered by the licensing requirement in Scotland, but small folding penknives and domestic knives are not.

What licences does a sports shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to sports goods retailers.

You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • if you sell any food goods (for example energy bars and protein drinks), the shop must be registered with the local authority environmental health department
  • if you play background music in the shop, you'll usually 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
  • if you offer credit facilities to your retail customers then you'll need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • if you keep computerised records of individuals' personal information, you may have to register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). You may also need to register if you use a CCTV system in your shop. From May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation has introduced additional protection for personal data
  • knife dealers in Scotland must obtain a licence from their local authority if they are not covered by an exemption. This could apply if you sell sports knives such as diving, hunting and fishing knives
  • if you sell, advise on, arrange or assist in selling general insurance (for example insurance to cover theft or damage to a piece of sporting equipment) you'll either need to be regulated directly by the FCA or become an 'appointed representative' of an FCA authorised principal insurer (the most likely option)


There is a wide range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and that protects 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 are also special rules covering selling online and when you're away from your premises. Visit the Business Companion website for detailed guidance on all aspects of trading standards legislation.

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.

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 sports 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 trust - for items that you're repairing
  • goods in transit
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employers liability
  • public liability
  • product liability
  • asset cover for hire equipment
  • motor insurance for business vehicles

It's worth noting that some trade associations and buying groups offer their members special insurance packages. One of these might save you money and provide exactly the level of cover you need.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.