Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Is the tobacco ‘footfall’ argument justified for tobacco purchases in New Zealand convenience stores?
  1. Louise Marsh1,
  2. Claire Cameron2,
  3. Robin Quigg3,
  4. Sarah Wood1,
  5. Mei-Ling Blank4,
  6. Noeleen Venter1,
  7. Lathan Thomas1,
  8. Lindsay Robertson5,
  9. Janet Hoek4,
  10. Trudy Sullivan5
  1. 1Social and Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2Biostatistics Centre, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. 3Ngāi Tahu Māori Health Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  4. 4Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  5. 5Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Louise Marsh, Social & Behavioural Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; louise.marsh{at}


Introduction New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal aims to greatly decrease the availability of tobacco. One option is to cease the sale of tobacco from convenience stores. However, tobacco companies and retail trade associations oppose this move and have argued that customers who purchase tobacco drive footfall and spend more than non-tobacco customers. The aim of this study is to test the validity of industry claims about the importance of tobacco to convenience stores.

Methods During November and December 2019, immediate postpurchase surveys were undertaken with customers on exit from a random sample of 100 convenience stores in two New Zealand cities. We estimated the mean number of items purchased, including tobacco and non-tobacco items, and mean expenditure on non-tobacco items.

Results Of the 3399 transactions recorded, 13.8% included tobacco, of which 8.3% comprised tobacco only and 5.5% included tobacco and non-tobacco items. The mean number of transactions containing both tobacco and non-tobacco items was 1.98, and 1.87 for those containing non-tobacco items only. Customers who purchased tobacco and non-tobacco items spent on average NZ$6.99 on non-tobacco items, whereas customers who purchased non-tobacco items only, spent on average NZ$5.07.

Conclusions Our results do not support claims that tobacco drives one-quarter of footfall into stores or that customers who purchase tobacco spend almost twice as much as non-tobacco customers. Combined purchases of tobacco and non-tobacco items constituted 5.5% of transactions; the impact on a store’s profitability of removing tobacco sales is unknown and could be the focus of future research.

  • public policy
  • advocacy
  • economics

Statistics from


  • Contributors LM, CC, JH, TS and LR conceptualised the project. LM obtained the funding. LM, RQ, CC, LR and M-LB designed the study protocol. LM, SW and M-LB managed the data collection process. RQ developed the Qualtrics survey and managed the data. NV and LT obtained the data. CC undertook sampling, conducted the analysis, interpreted data and prepared the results. SW conducted the literature review. LM drafted the manuscript. All authors provided feedback on subsequent drafts of the manuscript. All authors have seen and approved the final version.

  • Funding This study was funded by Lottery Health Research (R-LHR-2019–1 01 847).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The University of Otago Human Ethics Committee approved this project (ref 17/132).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.