24 Hour Off Licences in Scotland
Are there any supermarkets or convenience stores that sell alcohol 24 hours a day in Scotland?
Here at 24 Hour Alcohol, we sometimes get asked why we don’t list any shops in Scotland licensed to sell alcohol 24 hours. The reason is quite simple: sadly there aren’t any 24 hour off licences in Scotland due to Scottish alcohol licensing regulations, which don’t allow the sale of alcohol 24 hours a day in Scotland. Since 2005, off licences (supermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations, alcohol delivery services etc.) in England & Wales have been able to apply for extended operating hours, enabling them to sell alcohol around the clock, but the 24 hour drinking laws aren’t UK wide. Instead of getting 24 hour drinking in Scotland, the The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 brought in a stricter alcohol licensing regime.
New temporary COVID-19 restrictions on alcohol sales times do NOT apply to shops in England, which are still permitted to sell alcohol at their usual times, even during lockdown. So supermarkets, convenience stores & petrol station forecourts with 24 hour alcohol licences can continue to sell alcohol all night. In Wales, all shops must stop selling alcohol between 10pm-6am every night.
If you live near the English–Scottish border and you’re really desperate for 24 hour booze, you could always pop down to England and visit a 24 hour off licence in Cumbria or Northumberland (assuming, of course, that you have a sober driver). Now that Minimum Unit Pricing has been introduced in Scotland, a booze-run to England may not be such a bad idea.
What times can you buy booze in Scotland?
These days in Scotland, off licences (that’s all premises that sell booze for consumption off the premises, such as large supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda & Morrisons and small corner shops, garages etc.) are only allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between the hours of 10am and 10pm, 7 days a week (before 2009, alcohol could not be sold until 12:30pm on Sundays). Some shops even have additional restrictions, reducing the hours they’re allowed to sell alcohol even further. This obviously isn’t good news if you want to buy a few cans of beer or a couple of bottles of wine on a Friday or Saturday night.
Local Licensing Boards do legally have the power to grant 24 hour alcohol licences to premises, but only in exceptional circumstances and even then the law specifically refers to alcohol being sold on the premises, rather than off the premises, which would rule out supermarkets, convenience stores, corner shops, petrol stations and booze delivery services.
Are there late night alcohol delivery services in Scotland?
You may have heard about 24 hour drinks delivery services (sometimes referred to as dial-a-booze or dial-a-drink), that offer to deliver alcohol direct to your location, wherever you are, whatever the time. These after hours alcohol delivery services are illegal in Scotland as Scottish licensing regulations prevent licensed establishments selling alcohol “for consumption off the premises” from 10pm at night until 10am the next morning.
There may not be 24 hour drinking in Scotland, but there are supermarkets open 24/7, unlike in the rest of the UK where large supermarkets can’t open 24 hours on Sundays, which means no late night shopping after a Saturday night out for people in England or Wales. This is due to Sunday Trading regulations which dictates large supermarkets over 280 square metres, like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, Waitrose and Iceland can only open for a continuous period of six hours on Sunday, between the hours of 10am and 6pm.
There are 32 licensing authorities in Scotland: Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll & Bute, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian.