The vape scandal fallout

The Better Retailing team finds out how the Elfbar scandal impacted vape sales, and how retailers are now approaching the category to stay on the right side of the law

Two illegal vapes sold every minute in London last year

1Michael Burnell, The Vapourist, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

“The scandals with Elfbar and other disposables have really made people look more closely into the category and educate themselves more. The best thing that any retailer can do is get the slightest bit of information on these products if they’re going to be stocking them. There are so many stores that are selling illegal disposables and they’re not even aware of it.

“People at cash & carries are not trained in these products, they’re not specialists. I think more retailers need to start getting in touch with specialists and people in the vape industry and asking for their recommendations because there are so many knock-off, illegal and just poor quality versions of disposables out there. If you can talk to a customer confidently and you know what you’re talking about, they are going to come back to you again and again. We’re working to convert people away from disposables in our store.”

2Arjun Patel, Premier Cavendish Square, Swindon, Wiltshire

“There was some confusion around Elfbar, but as far as we can see it, they’re a product we can and do sell. But we need to educate customers because they were being told by multiples that they weren’t allowed any more. It meant that Elfbar sales have dropped but then sales have increased with other brands. So we’ve diversified our range, looking into disposable crystal bars, Bloody Marys and Lost Marys. You have to be clever and savvy to know which ones are going to sell. You can’t just buy something because it looks good. For many customers, it’s about the price, not the brand or the quality.

“Another big change is the need to have recycling stations for the disposables. I can set up a collection box that someone else will collect for £199 a year. My concern is that the people who smoke disposables won’t recycle them because if they cared about the environment, they wouldn’t be smoking disposables.”

3Asim Iqbal, Premier Roslin Convenience Store, Roslin, Midlothian

“In terms of disposables, there’s been no impact on our sales. Our customers have heard about the recalls but they don’t seem to care. In fact, some customers still try to ask me to stock the 3,500 puff vapes even though they know they’re illegal. It’s crazy. I explain to them that it’s illegal but they still want it.

“I recently received a letter from Midlothian Council and they made it very clear that those vapes are illegal and if any stores are caught with them they will be seized. Are you really going to risk your reputation for a few hundred pounds? Long-term, it also makes sense to sell the 600 puff vapes because it means customers will come back more often to buy more and they might buy other things when they’re in the store.

“In terms of pods and liquids, every now and again someone takes them because they’re better value for money but no many people are really going for them.”

Read more advice for independent convenience retailers


This article doesn't have any comments yet, be the first!

Become a member to have your say