Retailers who invest in improving their vaping industry knowledge and product range could rack up double-digit sales growth in 2018, new research suggests.

As the industry matures and new and existing vapers continue to seek out expert service, two-thirds of vape shop retailers expect store sales to grow by around 13% on average in 2018.

The research, commissioned by Philip Morris Limited (PML), also found that more than 70% of vape shop owners are considering investing in staff training to improve product knowledge in the next 12 months, while 47% expect to increase employment levels.

This growing confidence in the strength of the vaping industry is also leading 77% of vape retailers to expect to expand over the next three years, including opening another store.

PML head of sales, Matt Tisdall, said: “UK vape shop owners are right to be confident about the future.

“As more alternatives to cigarettes become available, vape shops can play a vital role in educating smokers, who would otherwise continue to smoke, about the full range of options available to help them switch.”

When asked about helping smokers looking to switch from cigarettes to vaping, the research also found that 94% of vape shop retailers believed that support from store staff was most helpful, closely followed by a wide range of products.

Michiel Carmel, manager of Vape and Volt in Camden, London, agreed: “Consumers don’t want to buy vaping products from untrained shop assistants who sit silently behind counters, they want specialist shops and informed, enthusiastic staff,” he told C-Store.

“True vapers are quite pernickety and they want advice, they don’t want stores that sell cheap products and chase margins.

“At our store, our ethos is to sell the right product to the right person. It’s about ensuring that vapers feel comfortable and confident about their choices. They can ask us anything about the range and there’s no such thing as a silly question.”

Convenience store retailers who invested in boosting their category expertise and range could enjoy equal success, he added.

Sid Sidhu, of Kenilworth Budgens in Warwickshire, has invested in a bespoke vaping offer and service to create a unique selling point in his store.

“From the smallest of discount shops to the largest supermarkets everyone is trying to get into vaping but it’s not necessarily proving to be a success for all of those outlets because real vapers want more than they’re offering,” he said.

“Unlike so many stores out there vaping is not something we dabble in, we are true specialists and people come to us from miles around.

“We have two fully trained members of staff who have excellent product knowledge plus we offer a full repair service, we are a complete solution and that’s what people who are serious about vaping want.”