THE Co-op Movement has pledged to continue working with the Government to eliminate sales of alcohol to young people under 18 after figures released by the Home Office put the Co-op third from bottom of a table of offending retailers.
However the fact that the ratio of "successful" secret test purchases in Co-op supermarkets across the UK has fallen from 48 per cent last summer to 17 per cent this month is being seen as welcome progress and proof that the Movement's responsible retailing and proof of age campaigns are bearing fruit.
According to the Home Office, Waitrose currently has the worst record for selling alcohol to people who are under-age.
Waitrose sold alcohol in 22 per cent of cases where trading standards officers used under-18s in secret test purchases. The other chains similarly tested were Somerfield (20 per cent), Co-op (17 per cent), Tesco and Sainsbury (both 16 per cent) and Morrisons (15 per cent).
A Co-op spokeswoman told the News: "We are committed to working with the Home Office to eliminate this industry-wide problem.
"Additional staff training and improved store communications have resulted in a big drop in the number of incidents and this work is continuing."
At a meeting with Home Secretary Charles Clarke last November, where both the Co-operative Group and United Co-operatives were represented, the retail sector pledged to eliminate under-age alcohol sales by the end of this year and, in view of the latest figures, this target is on course to be achieved.