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Smaller Tobacco Brands are Outperforming the Category Average

The c-store industry, along with everyone else, has experienced a tremendous amount of uncertainty in 2020. But despite everything, Tobacco has kept its stronghold and continued to be a top performer. Today we’re diving into the different subcategories and under-the-radar brands in Tobacco, to get a better understanding of which subcategories and brands are the most recent strong performers.

If you don’t have the time today to dive deeper, here’s a quick snapshot of the key takeaways:

  • In-store sales, per store, are up 1% from 2019 after 3 weeks of declines
  • Tobacco basket value is up 28% and units per basket is up 12% from last year
  • Smaller smokeless tobacco and cigarette companies are outperforming the category average in basket value and units per basket

C-stores continue to experience a decrease in trips with a corresponding increase in dollars per basket. However, sales have returned to growth on a year-over-year basis. While trips are down 16%, dollars per basket continues to hover near 20%. 

All Tobacco Categories are Growing in Basket Value and Size
All Tobacco categories are demonstrating strong growth from 2019, with dollars per basket growing by an average of 28% and units per basket growing by an average of 12%. This variance indicates two things:

  1. On average, consumers are purchasing more expensive Tobacco products
  2. Tobacco is price inelastic

Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco, and Cigars are hovering around average while the Vape subcategory has only experienced 7% dollars per basket growth. This minimal growth reflects impacts of 2020 FDA regulatory changes. 

Smaller Brands are Outgrowing Overall Tobacco
Smaller tobacco brands have seen above average increases in dollars per basket growth and units per basket growth. Below are the brands witnessing the most significant growth:

  • Red Buck, a pipe tobacco company, has experienced 63% year-over-year dollars per basket growth, and 58% units per basket growth
  • Smokeless brand, Kayak, has experienced a 63% increase in dollars per basket
  • Stokers, a smokeless brand, has experienced a 58% increase in dollars per basket

We expect continued growth in the Tobacco category over the remainder of 2020. Our team will continue to monitor Tobacco and broader in-store trends, share additional insights, and keep you informed over the near term.

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