Off licence

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Foley's off-licence, Sligo, Ireland.

Off-licence is a term used in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand for a shop licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises, as opposed to a bar or public house which is licensed 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. Off-license is also used in New Zealand for beverage outlets inside sporting venues, whereby alcoholic beverages are brought 'outside' the point-of-sale, even if it was inside a food outlet because it can be consumed at the stands, but is still consumed within the vicinity of the venue itself, and cannot be taken out of the venue.

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 bylaws, 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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