Over five weeks after covering the tobacco gantry at SLR’s Woodlands Local store in Falkirk, sales figures indicate that going dark has had absolutely no discernible effect on sales of tobacco or on wider sales throughout the store.
Woodlands Local was the first store in Scotland under 3,000 sq ft to go dark as part of a trial to help provide insight as to what would happen when the shutters come down for everyone on 6th April.
“The figures so far indicate something that no one predicted or anticipated,” said SLR Publisher Antony Begley. “Even our most optimistic projections were based on a fall of 5% or 10% over the first few months, but it just hasn’t materialised that way. The reality is that, if you compare one 31-day period with the previous 31 days, sales of tobacco products are marginally up, rather than down.
“That’s not to say they won’t fall in future, but we are reasonably confident that we are not going to see a significant decline, which is great news for the store.”
JTI, the official tobacco partner at Woodlands Local, was similarly surprised, having predicted a small initial decline following by a leveling out, consistent with supermarket performance after going dark.
The encouraging results should drive other retailers to make the move sooner, something that JTI is keen to see happen in Scotland.
Jeremy Blackburn, JTI Head of Communications, commented: “Stores that start preparing now will see a smooth transition. As we have witnessed first-hand with Woodlands Local, this means stocking the right range, implementing and sticking to a planogram, leading up to and beyond April 2015, and ensuring staff are fully trained to operate in a retail display ban environment.”