Off-licence (sometimes known as off-sales or offie) is a term used in the United Kingdom and Ireland for a shop licenced to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises, as opposed to a bar or public house which is licenced for consumption at the point of sale (on-licence). The term also applies to the licence granted to the establishment itself.
Off-licences typically are specialist shops, convenience stores, parts of supermarkets, or attached to bars and pubs. Prices are usually substantially lower than in bars or pubs.
In the United Kingdom, the “off-licence” status of a shop could once be used as a device to circumvent restrictive trading laws, particularly those concerning Sunday trading. Depending on local by-laws, shops might be either required to close at 12:00 once a week, or else not be allowed to trade in the evening. Shops with an off-licence made their hours similar to those of public houses, opening during lunch hours and from early evening to the mandatory closing time, usually 22:30 or 23:00. The Sunday Trading Act 1994 altered the situation somewhat.
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