Things move quickly in retail, and it’ll be April before we know it. This has particular significance this year because the tobacco display ban will become a reality for every c-store on 6 April.

Finding a solution for this is an urgent priority for the trade. For one thing, the penalties for non-compliance are steep: a fine of up to £5,000 and even six months in jail. But it needs to be an urgent business priority, too, as it’s not just the visual presentation that needs to be prepared – your staff and customers need to be ready too.

We know already from large stores in the UK and other countries where the display ban is in place that the simple act of putting a cover over the existing gantry is enough to confuse and irritate some customers.

Many will not know that the law has changed, and will think you have made a personal choice to alienate them. Service times will be slower and staff will be under more pressure than usual. And you will no longer be able to see the gantry either, so gap checks need to be done more methodically and more regularly to make sure you stay in stock, as shoppers wont thank you for being made to queue up, only to be told their chosen brand is out of stock.

When it comes to the gantry itself, some are lucky enough to have a tobacco company solution, while others will have to install something of their own devising, and most of this will happen just in advance of the 6 April deadline. But for the world outside the gantry, the prep work needs to start straight away.