Backbar Battle

The future of electronic cigarettes depends on who you listen to and on what day. Numbers point to a flattening-out of the segment. And while some see this as an indication e-cigarettes may not be the disruptive product it was once thought to be, others still believe the segment will bypass traditional cigarettes but it may just take a little longer.

E-cigarettes still command attention behind the backbar. True, the segment has seen its triple-digit growth slow to double-digit growth, but it is the only segment to even post double-digit gains. But traditional cigarettes are not going away anytime soon. The tobacco category leader accounted for 31.13 percent of in-store sales and 15.78 percent of in-store gross margin dollar contribution at convenience stores in 2014.

By comparison, other tobacco products (OTP) — which includes smokeless, cigars, e-cigarettes, papers, pipe and cigarette tobacco, and pipes — accounted for 4.89 percent of in-store sales and 4.41 percent of in-store gross margin dollar contribution.

Last year saw the typical players rule the roost in all segments of tobacco. In cigarettes, premium saw a 1.2-percent dip in average sales per store, but still rang up $339,306 per store. In second place, branded discount paled in comparison at $61,044 in average sales per store.

Similarly, smokeless tobacco and cigars continued to lead OTP, with smokeless taking a 60.6-percent share of dollar sales and cigars taking a 27.9-percent share.

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