Four retailers gave us their view on the upcoming changes to tobacco legislation. Here’s what they had to say, are you experiencing similar challenges?

paul-moscardiniPaul Moscardini,
Hallfield Lane Stores, Leeds

“The regulations that have been brought in, combined with the illicit trade are really harming tobacco sales. My business is 25% down weekly, but my associated products – rolling papers, fi lters and so on – are up 100%. Customers are becoming more and more open about it too: one or two come in and say “I’m a bit short, what baccy have you got until I get it off my mate?” The big losers are us, the retailers, and the Government in taxation.

“When the new regulations come in, more people who want smaller tobacco packs will go to the black market. I’ve had a tobacco review and taken some of my lines out and more will go. It’s got to the stage where I’m looking at tobacco and asking whether it’s worth putting all that effort into it. Should I look at another category that gives me a bigger return? If the trend continues I will reduce my range.”

alan finchamAlan Fincham,
Londis, Banham, Norfolk

“The changes to legislation will probably affect us. It’s the same old story – it’s going to push tobacco trade more underground.

“Up here in rural Norfolk, we appear to have become a hotbed of smuggling, it’s having a massive effect on the business. If you don’t want 30g of tobacco, what are you going to do?

“You used to be able to spot trends, when tax went up, people would buy price-marked from us rather than Sainsbury’s over the road. But now, at the end of some weeks, our sales are down 20%. That’s when you know the smugglers have brought some more in. It has an impact on footfall too.

“Price-marked packs are still the bestsellers. We try to merchandise cleverly, putting new lines next to existing big sellers, so when you do open up to get them out, customers might see them.

“A lot of the specialist stuff is now becoming a lot harder to sell.”

john greenJohn Green,
JR Green Newsagent, Sawtry, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

“The display ban has increased our business. Before, we used to say we didn’t have the product and people would walk out.

Now I’ve got my staff to offer alternatives if we haven’t got, say, Benson & Hedges Silver, we’ll offer them something else. Our sales are up 25%.

“When it comes to TPD, it won’t make our customers cut down. People are commenting on it to me, they say it will just cost them more money. I’ve started telling people about the changes, so everyone’s getting ready for them.

“Standardised packaging will make it harder for us, as I look for cigarettes by the colour when people ask for them. There’s no longer the brand loyalty there used to be, people look more at the price now. With illicit tobacco, there’s not a great deal in my area, but I know it goes on. Customers are becoming more open about it, we really need to stamp it out.”

nainesh shahNainesh Shah,
Mayhew News, London

“Sales of tobacco have kept up since the display ban, if not increased. Our main competition is a Waitrose around the corner and they do not stock price-marked cigarettes and that’s what attracts people to the shop here. In terms of volume, we are selling a lot more cigarettes than we have done in the past.

“I’m worried about the changes in the law. It’s going to create a lot of counterfeit trade, which I believe will affect us in many ways. My customers cannot believe we are having to operate a system where you can buy them but cannot see them.”

What are your concerns with the changes to tobacco law? Let us know.