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Prevalence and characteristics of tobacco purchases in convenience stores: results of a postpurchase intercept survey in Dunedin, New Zealand


Introduction Arguments regarding the importance of tobacco to convenience stores could impede the adoption of tobacco retail reduction policies. Although trade associations argue tobacco constitutes two-thirds of convenience store sales and drives footfall, few studies have tested these claims. We therefore examined the prevalence and characteristics of tobacco purchases at convenience stores in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Methods We conducted a postpurchase survey at 20 convenience stores, each visited for three 60 min intervals over a 4-week period. We used descriptive statistics to determine proportions and 95% CIs of transactions that contained tobacco and those that contained only non-tobacco items. We estimated the mean number of items purchased, the mean number of non-tobacco items purchased and mean expenditure on non-tobacco items.

Results Fourteen per cent of transactions contained tobacco (n=95/679); of those, 64% comprised tobacco only. Only 5% of all transactions included both tobacco and non-tobacco products. The mean number of non-tobacco items purchased was 1.9 for transactions containing only non-tobacco products and 1.7 for transactions containing both tobacco and non-tobacco products. After excluding the cost of tobacco, people who purchased tobacco and non-tobacco products spent on average $5.11 on non-tobacco items, whereas people who purchased only non-tobacco items spent on average $6.85.

Conclusions Tobacco products constitute a small proportion of items purchased from Dunedin convenience stores and are typically not purchased with non-tobacco items. Our findings are inconsistent with arguments that most small retailers rely on tobacco sales.

  • advertising and promotion
  • public policy
  • economics

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