Got an interesting email from a new retailer. Justine Vokes took over a small, rundown shop in West Yorkshire that had been established for more than 30 years. She wrote: “I have put all my money into the stock and continue to do so. My one and only mighty, mighty struggle is cigarettes. I have to use nearly all my takings to buy them but get virtually no return.”
She wanted to know whether anyone would supply her with a vending machine that they would also stock for her - on a ‘pay as you sell’ basis.
Since the cigarette vending ban in 2011 vending machine companies have concentrated on back units for bars which comply with the law. I rang Duckworth Vending Machines which used to do a retail unit just as Justine described, but they told me that she would struggle to find anyone doing pay as you sell now, because “there is no money in it”. A familiar refrain (although the government makes a very pretty penny from it).
I also asked around for retailer comments. Initially some thought that she might have underinvested in the business, but that is not the case. They also ALL said no one sells at the recommended retail price. Most add from 20p to 50p to a packet and agreed that you cannot survive on selling cigs at rrp.
Justine says it is such a fag to keep on filling the cabinet that she is now considering removing cigarettes altogether in favour of vaping products.
I’m sure a lot of you would like to do that too…if it weren’t for the footfall.