Display-ban-logoThe potentially devastating impact of plain packaging on the retail sector has emerged with MPs and manufacturers seeking to lessen the effects of any law change on independent retailers.

Using figures from the Department of Health’s impact assessment, released last month, RN calculates that every convenience store in the UK is in line to lose more than £55,000 in tobacco sales each year for 10 years, amounting to more than half a million pounds.

This equates to an annual hit on their profits of £2,751 based on earning a 5% margin from tobacco.

These figures do not include additional losses caused by reduced footfall and associated purchases as the report was “unable to quantify the value of these potential indirect losses”.

Conservative MP Nick de Bois, who has written a column for RN this week calling for a delay on plain packaging’s implementation to 2020, said: “This only further underlines the damage that plain packaging will do to retailers. With the law now seemingly inevitable, it is vital that parliament and the government co-operate to see how we can lessen this burden as much as possible.”

The tobacco industry also condemned what amounts to an annual penalty for the trade. “The impact assessment acknowledges that businesses in the supply chain will need time to adjust and diversify, but they haven’t allowed for this to take place,” said JTI’s head of communications Jeremy Blackburn. “In the display ban, small stores were given a further three years to prepare.

The impact assessment acknowledges that businesses in the supply chain will need time to adjust and diversify, but they haven’t allowed for this to take place

“Their own impact assessment says there is a need for time to adjust, so once again it’s going to disproportionally impact independent retailers.”

Mr de Bois said that there was “widespread sympathy” in parliament for a delay, but such a move would be fought by anti-smoking campaigners.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, said: “We’re confident politicians will see through these delaying tactics and vote for standardised packaging. There is no justification for any further delay.”