The dark market

This information is for tobacco traders only

It’s been a month since the legislation on tobacco displays saw every c-store in Scotland cover up their gantries, but has it made any difference to sales, and how have customers responded to the new laborious process for buying tobacco

Graeme KnowlesGraeme Knowles: Nisa, Aberdeen

Our shutters came down around two and a half months ago; that was when Imperial Tobacco came in to do it, so I was happy to go along. Since then sales have been pretty much the same. There’s been no difference at all. What I did find interesting was that on the 6th April we were visited by the council to ensure we were compliant, but they were quite impressed with our solution – which included a laminated price list that we’ve fixed to one of the pillars next to the tillpoint. Customers look at it, but they usually know what they want. Tobacco is all price and no loyalty so it’ll be interesting to see what happens now.


Billy KayBilly Kay: Spar, Greenock

Sales haven’t changed one iota in the last month. We left going dark until the last possible minute. We had the gantry prepared and then on the Sunday night we changed it over so we were compliant for the Monday morning. JTI had worked with us on the range in the weeks beforehand so staff were well-trained on what was where, which means less disruption when customers ask for their product. I’ll definitely be keeping with price marked packs though. Customers know how much their cigarettes cost and if they go up in price overnight you’ll lose customers.


David MitchellDavid Mitchell: KeyStore, Broadloan

We covered up quite a while ago and there’s been no difference in sales since then. We’ve been keeping a close eye on it, but over those few months there’s been no impact on our sales. The only difference on the 6th April was that we had to produce the price list and ensure we were compliant. I’ve been quite surprised actually, but a good few customers have asked to see it. It’s just been accepted without much complaint, although some customers think it’s a daft idea. My staff have been great – they know the gantry off by heart, and what’s impressed me most is that so do some of the customers, which helps!


Donna MorganDonna Morgan: Best-one at Brownlies, Biggar

There’s been no movement in sales. We’ve been keeping a close eye on the figures as we’d been worried, but after reading that sales in Woodlands Local hadn’t been affected we were hopeful it would be the same. It’s been difficult for the staff who only work a few hours a week, as getting to know the gantry takes time. Customers tend to now know where their own brand is though, so if staff aren’t sure the customer helps. Customers just see it as an inconvenience. One other thing is that it’s making us look at rationalising our range; the price list tells us that we stock too many SKUs.