After a price increase in November in France, the price of a pack of cigarettes is once again expected to increase by one euro in March, resulting in 10 euro packs by 2020. Obviously, this has caused concern amongst tobacconists, many of whom are worried the black market further explode.
According to Philippe Coy, president of France’s Confederation of Tobacconists, this will not only affect those living near French borders. It will affect also people who purchase cigarettes online. Having participated in the Deux-Sèvres’ tobacconists’ union general assembly that took place on January 28 in Niort, Coy estimates that a quarter of all cigarette packs sold today are purchased on the black market.
The fierce competition in prices has resulted in the closing of 8,000 shops in the past 15 years. In the Deux-Sèvres region alone, 25 professionals have gone out of business in the last 5 years. And although they don’t want to be constantly protesting and complaining, many tobacconists have decided to take action.
A major overhaul for tobacconist shops
Philippe Coy has announced a major shift in strategy in the next 5 years: to transform tobacconists into “drugstores that meet the needs of daily French life”. In order to do this, he is counting on “a base of 10 million customers per day, of which 42% are non-smokers”.
The diversification of tobacconist shops has already begun. For example, the launch of Nickel accounts has been very successful. Many other potential venues will be explored, such as:
- Offers for communal dining plans and cafeteria services
- Connecting local farmers and consumers to create local food distribution networks
- The creation of pick-up points for mail and other delivery services
- The creation of pick-up points to promote e-commerce
What is the objective in all of this? To attract non-smoking customers to tobacconist shops, which would protect tobacconists from a potential market collapse.