Spar retailers have welcomed Blakemore’s decision to reduce its focus on the declining cigarette market in favour of growing health and food to go trends.

Sales director Neil Mercer said cigarettes made up 40% of sales, but this figure had fallen by 4% since legislation changes May.

Mr Mercer said he expected cigarette sales to drop to single digits by 2022.

Blakemore wants to grow fresh sales from 40% to 60% in the next three years, he added.

“Shoppers will want fresh food instead of cigarettes and we have to meet that demand,” he said.

Julian Taylor-Green, of Spar in Lindford, has noticed similar trends.

“I don’t think it will be as big as Blakemore suggests, but fresh food will offset the decline,” he said. “We aim to grow the category to 50%.”