Poor reporting, not COVID, was biggest threat to vape stores in 2020


Inaccurate reporting hurt businesses more than pandemic did, say US vape stores

Survey reveals that hysteria over lung disease was the biggest factor in declining sales

US vape stores have had a bad 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t the main reason.

Instead, widely publicized cases of lung disease in young people – and misleading media reporting of those cases – were the biggest factors in declining sales reported by a large majority of e-cigarette retailers.

Average revenue per store fell by 18% between 2019 and 2020, according to the latest annual US vape store survey from ECigIntelligence, with about 80% of stores reporting a decline.

The outbreak of serious lung conditions (sometimes called EVALI) and inaccurate reporting of it was the biggest reason given by stores for this decrease in sales, followed by COVID-19. By contrast, state and local bans on flavored e-cigarette products were referred to as a reason for decline by only 7% of stores.

“At a time when accuracy in reporting is under the national spotlight, this is a vivid illustration of the real damage that can be caused by irresponsible journalism,” said ECigIntelligence editorial director Barnaby Page.

“The EVALI outbreak was shown to be caused by vaping of contaminated street cannabis products – nothing to do with the nicotine products that legitimate vape stores sell – but nevertheless these small businesses suffered heavily as a result of the linkage made in sensational reporting,” said Page.

Vape stores remain pessimistic about the outlook for their industry, but are continuing to diversify their product offerings, with the vast majority selling CBD and many looking to offer oral nicotine products.

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    However, despite the retail restrictions brought about by COVID-19, half of the stores surveyed still do not offer online sales, and there was no large increase in online sales reported by those who do.

    ECigIntelligence has carried out an online survey of vape stores in the US every year since 2016, with a sample representing between 500 and 1,000 vape stores in each survey.

    The 2020 US Vape Store Survey was carried out in August and early September with help from a number of vape industry associations and trade magazines, including the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) and the Vapor Technology Association (VTA).


    About ECigIntelligence:

    ECigIntelligence (www.ECigIntelligence.com) is the leading provider of detailed global market and regulatory news, analysis, legal tracking, and quantitative data for the e-cigarette sector worldwide. Customised research and consultancy are also available.

    We also publish CBD-Intel (www.CBD-Intel.comfor the global CBD sector, and TobaccoIntelligence (www.TobaccoIntelligence.com), which covers the global tobacco and nicotine alternatives sector, including heated tobacco (heat-not-burn) and snus. 

    For further information or comment, please contact us.

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