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December
2003

Taxes, anti-smoking regulations, and a soft economy all took a bite out of specialty tobacco store performance in 2002. But the strong growth of tobacco outlets is reflected in an increased number of store nationwide, and continued growth in the cigarette segment.

Retailers in our latest survey posted more losses in business in 2002 than gains. Among our surveyed sample, 57% reported business was down in 2002, verses 43% that saw business rise. The average loss in business was 9% for those reporting losses, while those seeing business rise saw an average gain of 12%. Overall, our entire surveyed sample reported a collective 3.4% gain in business last year.

Sales of mass market cigarettes (which includes RYO) inched up again Smokeshop Magazinešs annual survey of retail store performance. For the year 2002, surveyed shops reported that 19.8% of total store sales were from mass market cigarette brands, up from 16.1% in last yearšs report. Imported cigarettes edged up too, from 4.6% in 2001 to 5.2% last year.

Premium cigar sales, as a percentage of all merchandise sold, remained essentially unchanged at 37.8% last year, while non-premium and machine-made cigars fell to 5.6% of store sales from 6.6% in 2001. Pipes, humidors, lighters, smoking accessories, and nearly all of the non-tobacco merchandise tracked posted declines in terms of percentage of total store sales. Pipe tobacco sales rose to 6.2% of store sales in 2002 from 5.4% the previous year, while smokeless tobacco edged up from 1.3% to 2.0% last year.

Overall, tobacco and related merchandise accounted for 87% of all store sales last year, down just slightly from in 2001.

Non-tobacco merchandise, which accounted for only 9.4% of store sales in 2000, rose to 11% in 2001 and 13% last year. But nearly all of the categories tracked, from lottery tickets to snacks and fine writing instruments fell in our survey. With little specific feedback from respondents, wešre left to wonder what items comprise the growing "Other" category, which reached nearly 11% of all store sales in 2001.


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