The Impact of the Tobacco Display Ban

1-in-2 convenience retailers were opposed to the display ban before it kicked in on 1st April 2015. But has the ban really made a difference to UK convenience? We spoke to both convenience retailers and shoppers before AND after the ban to see what impact they think it's had.

To what extent have retailers and shoppers been impacted by the display ban?

One in three convenience retailers believe the ban has had an impact on sales – 29% say a negative affect, 7% positive. 1-in-4 say it has affected overall footfall to their stores.  

Most shoppers don't think their overall smoking habits have changed since the ban (or not yet) - 63% of convenience shoppers who smoke say that their tobacco purchasing habits have not changed at all since the ban (vs just 25% who say they definitely have.)

It's actually price, service and availability which has caused shoppers more concern since the ban.  Shoppers had concerns over potential price increases pre-ban: ½ of convenience shoppers who smoke said they believed that tobacco prices were likely (net) to increase more frequently after the ban. This perception continued after the ban - more than ½ of shoppers who smoke believe that tobacco prices have increased in conveneince stores. The majority of retailers (79%), however, say that tobacco prices have mainly remained the same in their stores.  But shopper perception, is reality. 

Shoppers also had concerns over how the new units would impact queue times in-store, and c1-in-2 do think that speed of service has slowed down in stores post-ban. c1-in-3 shoppers who smoke believe it is harder to find out which tobacco products are sold in store since the ban was implemented and also harder to find out the prices of tobacco in store.

Communication is key to reduce shoppers concerns regarding queue times and price increases – again, perception is reality!

While most shoppers believe their tobacco purchasing habits have not changed at all,  in order to help maintain customer loyalty the focus must now shift on ensuring positive availability and addressing concerns over pricing and service levels at all times.