Small stores are reporting increased tobacco sales after many supermarket outlets covered their gantries in advance of the display ban, a poll by Convenience Store has revealed.

More than a month before the display ban is formally introduced for large stores on April 6, 80% of small retailers contacted by C-Store said their tobacco sales were up month on month. Tobacco manufacturers have been rolling out display solutions to a number of supermarkets in the past month. Imperial Tobacco’s solution uses an angled track to make the doors self-closing.

The news supports predictions by Booker that the display ban could provide independents with the “greatest opportunity since the National Lottery”.

“Tobacco accounts for a significant chunk of our sales, and sales are growing month on month. I believe that the big Sainsbury’s near me has already gone dark ahead of the official ban, and this could be helping me. I really believe that we will profit once all the supermarkets go dark.”
Neil Norton
Spar, Kidderminster

“The news that some retailers are already experiencing tobacco sales uplifts is wonderful. My local supermarket hasn’t yet covered up its gantry, but I’m expecting fireworks when it does. The independent retail trade, manufacturers and government bodies will have to work much harder, though, in reporting and catching illicit traders as the display ban could also exacerbate this problem.”
Arif Ahmed
Ahmed’s News, Coventry

“Tobacco sales in both my stores have increased in the past month,” Anjali Karpal of Essential Convenience in Horsham, West Sussex, said. “The nearby Asda superstore in Crawley has already fitted doors across its gantry and it’s obviously having an impact. I visited it a few days ago and saw long queues at the tobacco kiosk. It was definitely taking the staff much longer to serve customers, plus the doors look ugly. It’s far easier for tobacco customers to come to small stores like mine where they get quick, friendly service, and are able to see that products are reasonably priced.”

In Wells, Somerset, Budgens manager Jason Tamplin is also enjoying rising tobacco sales. “Our tobacco sales are up on last month and this could be due in part to some of the supermarkets going dark ahead of the ban. I’m confident we’ll pull in even more sales come April 6.”

In Holsworthy, Devon, Premier retailer Dan Cock said the multiples should be worried. “There really is an enormous opportunity for us to profit from this increased footfall, however, we will have work to do. It’s important that we capture as much new customer data as possible so that we understand where they are coming from and what they want,” he said.