With vape shops shut for all of April, vapers have had to turn to new stores to buy hardware and e-liquids.
One of the biggest benefactors of this has been convenience retailers, and many have stepped up to cater for this new demand, using the past seven weeks as an opportunity to boost their credibility as a reputable place to access the latest technologies and e-liquid flavours.
As a result of this, evidence from suppliers and retailers suggests spending is likely to remain in convenience in the future, post-pandemic.
Here are three reasons why:
1. Convenience stores held onto spend after the initial sales boom
Richard Torrance, sales and marketing director at Liberty Flights, explains that after the week-long initial boom when panic buying took over, the company found that the new high demand was being maintained within convenience stores and online, especially for its e-liquids and pod systems.
“Spend growth in convenience stores has been evident as vape sales have transferred from specialist stores and supermarkets into the convenience channel where the purchasing experience is easier. Some of our retailers are selling double their average, but generally the uplift is between 20-30%,” he adds.
2. Retailers have invested in more specialised ranges
Amrit Singh, of Nisa Local High Heath in Walsall, has benefitted from a 200-250% increase in vape sales, from a mixture of his existing customers, alongside a huge influx of new vapers.
“As a result, I’ve had to order additional stock. In particular, I’ve had to order more coils and tanks because I now have a larger customer base with different needs, who are now looking to us for hardware they would have found at a specialist store in the past,” he adds.
With e-liquids, he says, most consumers are happy to try a similar flavour from a different brand, but this isn’t the case with tanks and coils, as people need specific hardware to fit their device.
3. The pandemic may be the final blow for struggling vape stores
Ebrahim Kathrada, Aquavape director, says: “I think that vape stores were struggling before the pandemic anyway for a number of reasons, such as the collapse of the UK high street, where many of these are stationed. But once they are allowed to trade again, I think many of them will go out of business as consumers will stick to purchasing their vapes from independent convenience stores.”
One reason for this could be that vapers will realise that it makes more sense buying their vapes from convenience stores, as they have longer opening hours, they can buy top-up products from there at the same time, and the channel generally caters to a broader demographic. Some vape stores, for example, can be quite intimidating for shoppers.