Background: One of the opposing arguments to restricting or banning the sale of tobacco products stem from a perception that this would adversely impact on small retail stores that rely on tobacco sales for viability. It has also been argued that purchases of tobacco leads to unplanned purchasing of other items that yield income for small store owners. This study tested the veracity of these arguments in the Australian context. Methods: Consumer intercept surveys (n=1487) were conducted outside a comprehensive sample of small stores (n=136) selling tobacco in lower socioeconomic suburbs. Data were collected over a 2-hour period outside each store using the same methodology (36% consumer response rate). Descriptive statistics examined the proportion of tobacco and non-tobacco purchases and most common products purchased. Results: Purchasing tobacco was the primary motivation for store visits for only 3% of consumers. The vast majority of products purchased (92%) were not tobacco, with hot food, groceries and lottery tickets most frequent. Only 8% of consumers purchased tobacco. When unplanned purchasing patterns were compared, consumers' who purchased tobacco were no more likely to buy other products. Conclusion: Tobacco purchasing was rarely the reason for store visits, indicating that it is not a key driver of consumer foot traffic for small retailers. There was also no evidence that tobacco contributes to spontaneous purchases of other products that might bring retailers profit. Findings suggest that restricting the retail availability of tobacco would be unlikely to have a pronounced negative impact on small retail stores.
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2021|