By Howard Riell, Associate Editor
Information Resources Inc. (IRI)’s Infoscan data shows that for the 52-week period ending April 19, 2015, c-stores rang up nearly $5.7 billion in smokeless tobacco sales, an increase of 5.8%. Of that $5.7 billion—approximately $5.4 billion—came from chewing tobacco and snuff, with only a small portion, slightly over $214 million, generated by spitless tobacco.
C-store retailers are seeing the consumer shift to smokeless products first hand.
Fred Faulkner, sales and marketing director for Jaco Oil/Fastrip Food Stores Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif., noted that he is seeing customers increasingly move to smokeless as an alternative to cigarettes due to smoking restrictions. “Flavor additions are a positive move (by) the tobacco companies. Packaging is a challenge since many of the flavors and styles all look the same. It can be intimidating for an employee to find the right item,” he said.
The main driver of smokeless sales at Fastrip’s 53 stores is moist tobacco, Faulkner reported, with the top performers being Copenhagen, Skoal and Grizzly.
Faulkner said c-stores need to redefine the smokeless space to make it easier to shop. They also need to delete older, slower items more quickly. Promotions, Falkner added, can encourage multiple purchases and create awareness in the category.
Stay tuned to CStore Decisions’ June tobacco issue, for more on how convenience store retailers are faring with smokeless, as well as other tobacco categories.