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Vape Sales Opportunity Lockdown 2

Dedicated vape stores have taken the place of the old-fashioned high street tobacconist. Specialist vape providers have deep knowledge of the different kits available on the market; they can stock a large variety of kits from a wide range of manufacturers – they have time to dedicate to answering questions and of course have space dedicated to display their range. However, the same was true of the tobacconist, and many of the old stores nevertheless departed the high street – not because they didn’t know their stock or their customers, but because enough products were also available elsewhere. Vape stores have closed temporarily for lockdown in England.

Across our “estate” of stores, more and more retailers are stocking alternative smoking lines. Items that fall into the alternative smoking category include vape kits and devices, e-liquids and vape related products. The figures in the chart below are derived from stores in England, Scotland, and Wales. It is important to note that not all countries have been in lockdown at the same times.

Lockdown 2020 - Alternative Smoking -Sales Per Store (£)
Lockdown 2020 - Alternative Smoking - Regions
If we break down the sales into weeks, the 2nd graph shows the increases in units sold of alternative smoking around the lockdowns. Wales experienced a surge in advance of Firebreak which was announced on 19th October and England saw a rise in sales from the announcement of Lockdown 2 on 26th October. Scotland hasn’t been subject to the same lockdown rules, instead following the tier system with localised lockdowns.
There are more general and convenience stores selling vape products than ever before and periods of lockdown clearly increase the numbers of customers who visit convenience stores for their vape. In March 2020, sales per store rose from £184.48 to £291.50 by May 2020. During the lockdown, vape stores have been closed as non-essential retail. Customers have therefore sought alternative sources, and there are signs that shoppers are going to their local store to stock up. Supermarkets only stock ranges from the larger vape manufacturers so those with a more nuanced taste will still be looking for a retailer who can provide that service.
Sales figures also suggest that once shoppers have found a convenient place to buy their preferred product that many return. It might be because an entrepreneurial store made an effort to seek out the right product or simply because it’s easier to continue to buy from the shop on the corner than make a trip into town. Still, there’s clearly a case for stores in England to promote their displays whilst the country is in lockdown.
Vape sales as a percentage of tobacco products have gone up: in 2019 sales were at 2.82% and in 2020 alternative smoking rose to 3.32% as more people discovered the benefits of quitting tobacco in favour of products that are better for their health. Higher than average margins on these products further the case for driving sales now to win a share of the market longer term.
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