Can children and young people be banned from shops?

Sometimes the Commissioner hears about supermarkets or other shops stopping or restricting the entry of children and young people – particularly school pupils – at certain times of day.

Shops should not assume that children and young people will cause trouble, but they are not acting illegally imposing restrictions on them. Although the Equality Act 2010 protects individuals in the UK against discrimination by traders and service providers – this includes shops and supermarket chains – the part of the Equality Act that’s about age discrimination doesn’t apply if you are under 18.

Different conditions and restrictions can apply to children or different ages. This means that businesses can refuse to serve or admit children. An example of this is hotels that don’t allow children or shops that limit the number of children entering a shop or ban them altogether.

Your rights

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) says that children should not be discriminated against on any grounds. Unfortunately, the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t act on this.

The UK Children’s Commissioners have all spoken out about young people being discriminated against because of their age.  And the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Office has published a report about young people as consumers which has a section about shops treating young people and adults differently.

What you can do

You can be a Human Rights Defender by writing to or meeting with the store manager to discuss their policy. If that isn’t helpful and it’s a supermarket or other chain store, writing to the Chief Executive or Chairman of the Board of the company would be a good next step.


If you believe you may have been discriminated against the  Equality Advisory Support Service provides advice and assistance on equality and human rights legislation and how it may relate to you.


If you are a child or a young person and would like advice and information from the Commissioner’s office – or to tell us something you’re worried about – you can contact us:

  • using the form at the bottom of our website
  • emailing us at
  • texting 0770 233 5720 (Texts will be charged at your standard network rate)
  • calling our children and young people’s freephone on 0800 019 1179.

We can also give advice and information about children’s rights issues to adults—please contact us on or through using our contact form.

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