The government has said: “To reduce social contact, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. These include: all non-essential retail, including, but not limited to clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms, travel agents, betting shops, auction houses, tailors, car washes, tobacco and vape shops.”
It is believed that vape stores will be able to remain open for click-and-collect/delivery service, which would be an improvement on the restrictions put in place last March. Online stores can continue to operate as normal.
The impact of the previous lockdown varied. Edinburgh-based chain VPZ noted it saw more smokers making the switch, posting record numbers of attempts in 2020. The company even managed to open a new store in Bruntsfield. Doug Mutter previously told Planet of the Vapes: “Despite the economic turmoil we are continuing to create jobs in Edinburgh.”
“We are seeing the biggest change in the retail economy in living memory and we as a company have had to be adapt in what we can offer. We believe this maybe a longer-term change to the marketplace and we are investing and committing to serving local communities as best we can.”
Just last week, the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) was urging members to engage with its “Write to your MP” campaign. It says: “Since the first measures on businesses in light of controlling coronavirus were announced back in March, the IBVTA has continuously engaged with the UK Government and the devolved parliaments, as well as with our smoking cessation and public health stakeholders.”
“Vape shops, which provide smokers with the most effective and popular method of quitting smoking should at least be seen as essential as tobacco retailers and off-licences, and this is the best opportunity for our members and their customers to ensure their elected representatives are aware of their importance.”
John Dunne, Director General at the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) reacted strongly to the news that the government was again ignoring its own advice to promote vaping in place of smoking.
He told Planet of the Vapes: “Whilst we recognise the predicament that the Government faces, with data highlighting the worsening coronavirus situation across the country, as an industry we feel extremely disappointed that the vaping sector has once again been overlooked as one providing essential goods and services. “Only earlier this year Public Health England acknowledged the contribution played by vaping in helping smokers quit and recent research has again highlighted that vape products are much more effective than NRTs in helping smokers give up.
“It seems strange – and illogical - that the Government is happy for people to continue shopping for alcohol in off licences, which don’t appear to be on the non-essential shop closure list, but does not allow them to buy vape products or gain specialist advice in store that can help them to quit smoking, which according to PHE is at least 95% more harmful than vaping e-liquids. Vape retail stores are already well kitted out to be compliant with social distancing measures and do not deal with high volumes of traffic like other outlets. Only last month the Government-backed Stoptober campaign was encouraging smokers to quit, including through taking up vaping. Those who took up the challenge during the month now do not have access to the same level of support and products from their local vape stores. We will be making these points strongly to government on behalf of the industry and asking them to reconsider their stance on vape stores and reclassify them as essential in future,” Mr Dunne continued.
“In the meantime, we will be giving every support to our members to ensure that they understand and adhere strictly to the new guidelines. Also, in anticipation of a second national lockdown, the UKVIA will be launching an industry-wide campaign next week to promote the fact that whilst vape stores will not be open for the next few weeks, they will be offering online click and collect and home delivery services as per the government guidelines to ensure that smokers and vapers can continue to gain access to vape devices and e-liquids. According to research some 1m smokers have already quit smoking during the pandemic and we want to use the next month in a positive way to encourage even more to do the same. The worse thing that we need to avoid happening is people being tempted back to smoking or not trying to quit as a result of the stress caused by this latest development.
“These are undoubtedly tough times for any industry and the vaping sector is no exception. The industry proved to be incredibly agile during the first lockdown and I am sure it will rise to the challenge again this time around. As a FMCG sector it will be important for the vaping industry to reopen for business in early December, the target date for the end of the second lockdown, so it can maximize sales in the lead up to Xmas and safeguard the thousands of people it employs in the manufacture, wholesale, quality control and retail of vape products.”