Over the past few years, e-cigarette shops have multiplied at a rapid pace. It wasn’t all that long ago when ecigs were still a rare commodity that people didn’t understand. Now, you can find a place to buy ecigs and eliquid in all of America’s biggest cities and many small towns. Now a new study is providing a closer look at what these stores offer and how they are handling the current regulatory uncertainty.
The 2015 Vape Shop Index was a joint effort from several major ecig advocacy organizations and research specialists: Ecig Intelligence, E-Cigarette Forum, SFATA, and Roebling Research. After collecting data from 540 ecig shops across 42 states, the results clearly showed a growing level of success among even the smallest ecig retailers.
On average, these shops are raking in $26,000 in sales every month. Owners report that their best sellers are low-nicotine eliquids in the 3 to 6 mg/ml range. Most stores offered ecigs and advanced vapor devices too, but eliquid still managed to account for at least 50 percent of sales.
“This really is the first time that the industry will have detailed independent data from vape shops, where much of the growth in the sector is now occurring, reaching more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue,” said Tim Phillips, CEO of ECigIntelligence. “As consumer preferences evolved toward open system tanks and e-liquids, we saw a need for accurate data to help shop owners better compete in today’s marketplace.”
Steve Hong, principal at Roebling Research, said the data is significant because it reveals just how successful a small town ecig shop can be in today’s culture. Hong believes the future will only bring greater profits are stores gain more experience and expand to future locations. “As the vape shop channel continues to mature, we’ll probably see more consolidation as established vape shop retailers continue to grow and expand their businesses,” he said. “There’s no doubt this channel is driving the broader category and we expect the channel to grow even bigger next year.”
Of course, owning an ecig shop doesn’t come without its risks. Store owners face a lot of unknown factors in planning for 2016 with regulations looming. While 98 percent said they would support “reasonable” regulations, 67 percent felt the current FDA proposal and state-level ecig policies were harmful.
Cynthia Cabrera, President of SFATA, said the FDA could essentially crush these business owners in one swift move with the current regulatory proposal. “Anything onerous, such as the FDA’s pending final rule, could seriously impact tens of thousands of jobs.”
Despite the ongoing debate about how to best regulate ecigarettes, most brick-and-mortal ecig retailers have a positive outlook. In fact, 76 percent said they expected to see their businesses grow in the coming year and they expressed optimism for the future potential of the ecig industry.