The collapse of Palmer and Harvey (P&H) as the UK’s largest tobacco wholesaler in November didn’t help retailers in a market which has already been heavily hit by strict legislation on plain packaging and pack sizes.

Booker’s 2.6% decline in tobacco sales for the 16 weeks leading up to 29 December doesn’t make for positive reading, but Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis similarly admitted in the company’s latest results there were problems finding alternative sources of tobacco supply following the demise of P&H.

Supply issues are never good, but independent retailers can take some relief from rival supermarkets experiencing similar issues and they will no doubt continue looking at other sources of profit to maintain and increase their overall margins.

In the meantime, tobacco shortages across the multiples will provide some competitive relief for convenience store owners as shoppers may look towards alternative sources such as newsagents, corner shops and independents.