Despite Regulatory Challenges, Vapor Retail Rises

Regulatory challenges have had a major impact on the vaping industry. Premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs), along side recent shipping changes have been testing the markets as of late. However, according to IRI Total U.S. Convenience data, for the latest four weeks ending April 18, 2021, electronic smoking devices saw a 19.9 percent increase in dollar sales and a 24.5 percent increase in unit sales. And for the latest 52 weeks, the category saw a 10.5 percent increase in dollar sales and a 17.7 percent increase in unit sales.

Credit: Auremar

Rick Staley, merchandising manager for Nashville, Tenn.-based Tri Star Energy’s Twice Daily stores, noted its numbers are overall in line with IRI’s, according to CStore Decisions. “At Twice Daily, customers are looking for alternative tobacco products,” he said. “We’ve noticed that nicotine pouches and vapor are both doing very well.”

And at ARKO Corp.’s GPM Investments, the vape subcategory is doing “extremely well,” said Kaitlyn Meara, GPM’s tobacco category manager, adding that customers are looking for variety in nicotine delivery, flavors and price points. The Richmond, Va.-based chain operates or supplies stores in 33 states and Washington, D.C., including both its 1,350 company-operated stores and approximately 1,600 dealer sites. “Like in most other CPG categories,” Meara said, “we saw an increase in baskets due to customers making fewer trips.”

Now that people are starting to return to their routines and to more traditional work environments, much remains unknown about the way that consumers’ habits will shift moving forward.

Meara noted it’s extremely hard to predict the tobacco category as a whole, but she’s “excited about the innovation in the category with nicotine pouches and IQOS.”