“Having a ‘bricks and mortar’ presence will remain critical as people love to interact with retail staff, see the product, and seek advice,” says Ben Pryor, Co-owner of Vapo and Alt New Zealand. As the country has transitioned to Alert Level 2, retailers were allowed to reopen and operate as long as they respect social distancing measures.
“Our Vapo and Alt online stores saw a real lift in the past couple of months, and no doubt many customers will stay virtual shoppers, but we’re very confident physical shoppers aren’t going anywhere. The public will always like getting out to shop, with traditional retail’s tactile factor not set to lose any of its appeal,” added Pryor.
Pryor recently reported that the companies experienced a staggering rise in sales for starter kits, meaning that many smokers have used this lockdown period to quit smoking. “The good news is many smokers used the lockdown to quit tobacco for health reasons and to save money. With our stores now back in business, we’re hoping to encourage even more Kiwi smokers to make the switch.”
He added that the reopening of the shops has other benefits besides helping people quit smoking. “Reopening our Vapo stores not only ensures retail jobs, but will help more Kiwis to quit smoking, and enable better environmental outcomes. It just goes to show the benefits of reopening a shop can be way broader than most probably think,” says Ben Pryor.
Vape shops play a key role in smoking cessation
In line with this, a 2019 study had indicated that vape shops play a key role in supporting smokers who switch to safer alternatives. The study titled, “‘I Felt Welcomed in Like They’re a Little Family in There, I Felt Like I Was Joining a Team or Something’: Vape Shop Customers’ Experiences of E-Cigarette Use, Vape Shops and the Vaping Community,” aimed to understand customers’ experiences of vaping and vape shops, and the extent to which smoking cessation advice is and should be provided by these outlets.
The researchers had conducted telephone interviews with 22 customers recruited in vape shops in the East Midlands region of England, exploring the participants’ smoking histories, reasons for using e-cigarettes, the role of vape shops in their e-cigarette use, and whether smoking cessation was discussed in vape shops.
The compiled responses had shown that respondents regarded e-cigarettes as a quitting tool and reported very positive experiences of vaping. The participants found vape shops critical to their positive experiences, in that they provided access to a wide variety of high-quality products and reliable product information and advice.