Issues in the tobacco supply chain as retailers switch from standard to plain packaging are leaving shops’ gantries looking “like they’ve been robbed”.

That’s the view of retailers experiencing ongoing problems getting hold of tobacco – either in branded or plain packs.

Natalie Lightfoot, who runs Londis Solo Convenience in Glasgow, said her tobacco sales had taken a huge hit as she had been left with hardly any stock. “It’s been going on for a bit longer than eight weeks, but it’s really starting to show,” she told Retail Express. “I look like I’ve been robbed again.

“I understand that when 10s run out, they’re gone, but we can’t get 20 packs either – you try to explain that to the customer and they’ll go to someone who’s stockpiled them.”

Ramesh Shingadia of Shingadia’s Londis Southwater & Post Office in Southwater, Horsham, said: “It’s a general thing, not just Londis. The whole market is in transition. We’ve started our own in-house exercises to make it as successful as we can. There are supply chain issues though.”

Raj Aggarwal, who has Spar shops in Leicester and Sheffield, said: “There’s a huge disparity between what is available and what’s not. One day we can get the stock, another day we can’t. It seems to be across the board.”

A Booker spokesperson said: “We have experienced some availability issues from our suppliers, however we are working closely with them to limit this.”

JTI head of trade communications Jeremy Blackburn added: “We would encourage retailers to log on to JTI Advance, talk to their suppliers and their JTI reps to better understand the levels of stock and brands available to them.”

An Imperial Tobacco spokesperson said they were unaware of stock issues on its brands and added: “We inform all of our wholesalers in advance when these lines will disappear to ensure they can advise the retailers respectively, and ensure that they can purchase the new format which replaces the previous lines.”