Here are the hard facts ­ sales figures in millions of cigarette sticks ­ compiled exclusively for The Grocer by ACNielsen from EPoS checkout scanners and retail audit information. They cover the year ending September 2001. The figures show just how much the cigarette market is changing. Most of the top-selling premium brands are on the way down ­ in free fall in some cases ­ their tumbling sales a casualty of the massive duty imposed by the government which can be as much as £3.47 on a pack of 20 retailing at £4.49. It comes as no surprise that consumers are switching to less expensive alternatives, such as ultra-low price varieties which have grown from 24.2 % to 27.2% of the market [AC Nielsen RAL] in the last year. And it is no coincidence that the list's best performer, Imperial's Richmond King Size which has gained a remarkable 132.8% in the last 52 weeks, is an ultra-low price brand. The sector's rate of growth has been so rapid in the last few years, Imperial Tobacco estimates ultra-low price brands will overtake the premium sector by 2003 ­ if not sometime this year. If this happens, the best-sellers list will look very different this time next year. In such a volatile market, retailers will need to keep a close eye on sales data during 2002 and be prepared to re-allocate shelf space according to current rather than past performance. In the meantime, make the most of the premium brands, which still account for 35.1% of the market, by making sure your fixture accurately reflects the best-seller list. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}