Cigarette sales in the US increased for the first time in two decades
While everyone has different coping mechanisms following last year’s pandemic lockdowns, some did smoke. Cigarette sales in the US soared for the first time after two decades. According to the Federal Trade Commission report, there was a slight increase of 0.4%.
The percentage is enough to let retailers and wholesalers gain an increase of nearly 8 million. This was a leap from 2019 sales of 202.9 billion to 203.7 billion in 2020 – the pandemic year.
In addition, this cigarette sales report from FTC is data from the four major tobacco companies. These companies are ITG Holdings USA, makers of Winston and Kools, Altria Group, makers of Marlboros, Vector Group, makers of Pyramid and Reynolds American, makers of Pall Malls and Camels.
The report said that cigarette sales are also attributed to additional promotions and advertisements. A year before the pandemic, the advertisement expenses were worth $7.62 billion. While it increased to $7.84 billion in 2020.
FTC said, “the cigarette companies concentrated the bulk of their spending in the price discounts paid to cigarette retailers to reduce the price of cigarettes to customers.”
Although the FTC didn’t confirm that the change in consumer behavior ushered cigarette sales during the pandemic, the rise in sales also shows in other sectors. This being the retail alcohol sales too. The sales inched higher in 2020, even if bars and restaurants are closed as consumers are buying more to stock at home.
Cigarette sales stability
Moreover, a Bloomberg report in April 2020 cited that Altria’s cigarette sales in the first quarter soared slightly as a result of “bulk purchases.” As the company calls it, “pantry loading” brought about that cigarette sales increase, and it’s when smokers tend to stock up due to shortage fears.
However, cigarette sales last year seem to be just a short-term trend. According to The Winston-Salem Journal report, Nielsen’s convenience store for four weeks showed that overall sales are down 4.9% as of March 27 this year.
Moreover, electronic cigarettes sales were down slightly. However, they had an increase of 7.5% year over year, according to a Nielsen report. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed that one in five high school students and above 6% of US adults say they use vaping now. Another factor contributing to the uncertainty of cigarette sales.
As experts say, last year’s increased isolation, uncertainty, and stress took a toll on consumers. Which created a need for substance use.