As the trade prepares for new tobacco legislation in the form of the EU Tobacco Products Directive coming into force in May this year, evidence is emerging that the imposition of covered gantries has had little effect on tobacco sales for the majority of retailers.

A poll conducted via epos systems supplied by The Retail Data Partnership shows only 31 out of 120 retailers (26%) strongly agreed that tobacco sales had fallen since the gantry changes in April 2015. A further 20% agree somewhat, with 54% either neutral or disagreeing with the proposition that tobacco sales had fallen.

Convenience Store’s own poll, conducted via our website, found that 69.6% of respondents had not seen a decline in tobacco sales since the display ban, compared with 30.3% who had. This aligns with an earlier study, conducted by HIM Research & Consulting last year, which found that 64% of retailers reported that it had no impact, with 7% saying that tobacco sales had actually increased.

Retailers contacted by C-Store said that in-store investments such as refits had helped to increase sales across the board, including tobacco, as new merchandising solutions could be incorporated into the store design.

Jai Singh of Go Local Extra, Sheffield, said: “Tobacco sales are up year on year as a result of our recent store refit which has helped boost footfall and basket spend generally. As part of the refit we decided to remove the old back-wall tobacco gantry and replace it with an overhead solution from the Italian company Expotutto.”

David Worsfold of Farrants in Cobham, Surrey, has also increased sales. “The display ban has not affected tobacco sales at all. In fact, they have grown in recent months following our store expansion and refit which has led to a boost in overall footfall and sales.

“We now keep tobacco in draws under the counter as opposed to a back-wall gantry, which is working very well for us.”