The destructive impact of illicit tobacco sales on the livelihoods of local retailers and their communities has been highlighted by two hard-hitting reports.
A survey commissioned by HIM on behalf on Convenience Store has revealed that more than 43% of convenience store retailers believed that black market tobacco sales were having a negative impact on their businesses, losing them legitimate sales and hampering investment in their store and employment.
The survey of 100 convenience store retailers from across the UK also revealed that 16% had been approached in their stores by those selling illicit tobacco, while 70% did not believe enough was being done to tackle the problem at local level.
The findings are supported by the latest results of the tobacco industry’s Empty Pack Survey (EPS), which revealed a steep increase in the level of non-duty paid cigarettes in the UK from 16.6% in 2011 to 21.5% in 2012.
Imperial Tobacco belives that the average convenience store is now losing more than £40,000 per year in tobacco sales to the illicit trade - up £10,000 on the previous year.
The figure equates to more than 5,500 lost tobacco purchases a year, or more than 100 missed sales a week, the company says.
“That’s to say nothing of the lost impulse purchases from other categories that are generated by tobacco,” added Imperial anti-illicit trade manager Peter Nelson.
“Nearly a quarter of the cigarettes consumed in this country evade the already high level of UK duty, and the situation is only going to get worse unless the government tackles the rise in illicit trade head on.”