Tobacco smuggling ‘puts corner shops under threat’

Tobacco smuggling is said to be affecting retailers. Picture: Stephen Mansfield
Tobacco smuggling is said to be affecting retailers. Picture: Stephen Mansfield
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Lost sales from tobacco smuggling and cross-border shopping has left one in 10 corner shops under threat of closure, according to a survey.

The Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance says its research found that 10% of independent retailers are considering shutting their business because of the effect of the cut-price trade.

Around two in five corner shop owners (38%) have considered reducing their staff as smugglers cash in on higher levels of tax on tobacco in the UK compared with some other EU countries.

The Government should allow tax levels in member countries to “catch up” so that the UK is not a target, according to the alliance which represents 26,000 independent tobacco sellers.

Charges

Scottish spokesman Geoff Barrett, a shopkeeper in Glasgow, said: “These results show that tobacco smuggling is not only a threat to the livelihoods of independent retailers but one that continues to worsen.

“The high levels of tax on tobacco mean that a smuggler selling at half the price I charge will make more money selling his tobacco here than almost anywhere else in the EU.

“The Government needs to allow tax levels in the other member countries to catch up with those in the UK so that smugglers do not see the UK as the most profitable place to ply their illegal trade.”

The Economic Research Survey of 895 UK retailers, including 92 in Scotland, was carried out by post back in February.