24 Hour Off Licences
Welcome to 24 Hour Alcohol, the place to find supermarkets, convenience stores & petrol stations selling booze all night
Since the introduction of 24 hour drinking in England & Wales enacted by the Licensing Act 2003, off licences have had the ability to apply to their local licensing authority to sell alcohol 24 hours a day.
The term “off licence” refers to any retail premises licensed to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises: supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops, newsagents, grocery stores and petrol filling stations/garages all fall under this category, as opposed to establishments licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises, such as pubs, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
There is still a high percentage of 24 hour shops that don’t have a licence to sell alcohol all night – they may be open 24 hours, but alcohol is not sold at night. Many late night shoppers will be familiar with the sight of the alcohol aisles cordoned off at the local supermarket, which can be a real downer when you were planning to grab a few cans of beer, bottle of wine or any other type of alcohol after hours. Because each shop is licensed individually by the local council where it is situated, and premises licences are granted on a case by case basis, it’s can be hard to know where to find shops that sell alcohol all night. That’s all changed now that we’ve compiled a database of all shops licensed to sell alcohol 24 hours…
Our 24 Hour Alcohol database contains details of all shops with 24 hour alcohol licences, so now you can always find your nearest 24 hour shop that actually sells booze all night, no matter where you are located in England or Wales.
The availability of alcohol 24 hours a day varies greatly depending on location. For example, in the London Borough of Camden & the City of Westminster, two licensing authorities that cover a large chunk of central London, there isn’t a single 24 hour off licence, making it incredibly difficult to buy booze late at night in these parts of London, unless an all night alcohol delivery service is used. In Waterloo, South East London, there is a Sainsbury’s Local right next door to a Tesco Express, both open 24/7 and licensed buy the London Borough of Lambeth, a council with one of the highest number of 24 hour licences in the country, however, only the Sainsbury’s Local has been granted a licence to sell alcohol 24/7 – the Tesco Express is not allowed to sell alcohol at night. This goes to show that it can be extremely confusing trying to find booze out of standard trading hours (as in, the old fashioned licensing times before 24 hour drinking came about in 2005).
Unfortunately, a significant proportion of shops with 24hr alcohol licences have decided not to open 24 hours. Where possible, we’ve tried to list opening times in our database of 24 hour off licences, to help identify which shops with 24 hour licences actually open all night and which don’t.
There’s a variety of reasons why shops have a licence to sell booze around the clock, but don’t open at night. For example, some shops apply to sell alcohol 24 hours to give them the flexibility to open late if they ever need to (this is common with Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s) so they don’t have to go to the bother, time and expense of applying to extend the hours on their premises licence in future if they wish to make slight adjustments to their opening times (in other words, they never had any intention of opening 24 hours). Other shops may have experimented with 24 hour opening in the past and found it unviable, so stopped opening all night. In some cases, shops apply for 24 hour alcohol licences to give them the option of operating a drinks delivery service.
Over the last year or two, the number of 24 hour supermarkets operated by the big grocery chains has been slashed, as Tesco and Asda reduced opening hours at a load of stores and Sainsbury’s ceased 24 hour opening at their last few remaining 24 hour superstores.
Forecourt shops at petrol filling stations/garages with 24 hour alcohol licences now represent around half of all retail premises licensed for 24 hour alcohol sales, though more often than not, late night/early morning transactions are conducted through a night pay window/night hatch. Use our 24 Hour Alcohol store locator tool to check if your nearest 24 hour BP, Shell, Esso, Texaco, Jet, Gulf or Co-Op branded service station sells alcoholic beverages through the night – you may have a 24 hour off licence closer than you think!
It’s important to mention that Sunday trading laws in England & Wales restrict large supermarkets (over 3000 sq ft) to only being able to open for a maximum of six continuous hours on Sunday (which must be between the hours of 10am-6pm), therefore 24 hour supermarkets have to close on Saturday night, so don’t get caught out! Don’t panic though, small supermarkets, convenience stores and garages are not affected, so can open 24/7.
To find a 24 off licence near you, use our 24 hour booze shop locator to search based on your location or browse 24 hour off licences by choosing an area… London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, County Durham, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Swindon & Wiltshire, Tyne & Wear, Wales, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire, Yorkshire. If you’re based in Scotland, take a look at 24 hour off licences in Scotland to find out why you can never find a shop selling alcohol after 10pm in Scotland.
How does a shop obtain a licence to sell alcohol all night?
Shops can usually open 24 hours a day without needing any kind of permission/licence but for a shop to sell alcohol, it must hold a “premises licence” which dictates the hours alcohol can be sold. A shop can sell booze day and night by applying to the local licensing authority (council) for a premises licence permitting the sale of alcohol by retail 24 hours – this can be either an application for a new premises licence or a variation of an existing premises licence. There is then a 30 day consultation period where anyone can object to the application. If there are no objections, tacit consent applies, which means the licence is automatically granted. If the council receives any objections, a hearing/meeting is held, where the council’s licensing committee will decide the outcome. Often the local police licensing department/unit/team objects to 24 hour alcohol licences and sometimes so do local councillors or departments within the council. Local residents may also lodge objections.
If you look young for your age, don’t forget to take your ID with you when going shopping for alcoholic beverages. You must be at least 18 years of age to buy alcohol in the UK but some shops operate the Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 schemes, which means they’ll ask you to produce identification if you look under 21/25, in order to verify you are aged over 18.