According to new data from Imperial Tobacco, last year the channel took its highest share of UK cigarette sales since 1988. Share of sales was up 6.7% to 57%, giving independent retailers £5.7bn of the £10.7bn category.
In contrast, multiple grocers’ share of cigarettes dropped 3.1% to 24.6% with c-store chains seeing a 5.3% dip to 17.9%. Independents also increased their dominance in the other key tobacco sectors such as roll-your-own, which grew 2.55% to 41.2% of the market.
Chris Dale, Imperial’s national account manager for independents, said that independents were winning customers from competitors because of their ability to “adapt quickly to local markets and offer a more personalised service. Smokers recognise the independent sector represents a credible alternative to the multiple offering.”