Some retailers have also reconsidered their tobacco sales policy.
About one in 10 supermarkets (10.1%) plan to phase out their sale within the next year, the survey indicates. More than three out of four respondents (75.4%) will not adopt a tobacco-free policy, and 8.7% do not sell tobacco products.
“It appears that anything associated with smoking is a negative these days,” said one respondent. “We can ill afford a negative staring consumers in the face. It’s the same as placing a sign over the front entrance stating, ‘We have high prices.’”
Another said, “We provide a convenience for our consumers. It is a legal product and we will continue to sell tobacco.”
The majority of respondents (52.5%) who merchandise tobacco products said that the contribution of these items to Center Store profits is not significant, followed by fairly significant (39%), significant (3.4%) and very significant (3.4%).
“The negatives are high inventory costs, high theft risk, low profit return, and they’re not popular,” said one participant. “Positives are that they meet customers’ needs, though they’re doing so less and less.” Another said, “About half the smoking crowd are still pantry loaders that spend a significant portion of their income in-store.”