A 2019 study had indicated that vape shops play a key role in supporting smokers who switch to safer alternatives. Titled, “‘I Felt Welcomed in Like They’re a Little Family in There, I Felt Like I Was Joining a Team or Something’: Vape Shop Customers’ Experiences of E-Cigarette Use, Vape Shops and the Vaping Community,” this study had found that vapers regarded e-cigarettes as a quitting tool.
Sadly despite such reports, vape shops have been deemed “non-essential” and forced to close as part of the current COVID-19 lockdown. To this effect, many small independent vape businesses have been fearing their survival, whilst their customers worried about being able to obtain their smoking cessation aids.
In response to this, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) had issued a press release to remind e-cigarette users around the country, that despite the lockdown, they will still be able to obtain their devices via online retailers and home delivery services.
Similarly, the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) which is the only trade association in the UK focused on the independent vape industry, has made some advice and useful links available on its website for its members, in order to assist with this transition to a different way of doing business.
UK vape businesses have remodelled their operations
Naturally, online retailers have experienced a considerable increase in demand. One such retailer, Vape Club, has reported a 150-200% increase in business. “Normally, when we experience larger order volumes than normal such as at Christmas, we would increase staffing levels to cope. However, this hasn’t been possible due to the circumstances and instead we’ve extended shift times and added ones at the weekend,” said Managing Director Dan Marchant.
“We’ve also deployed innovative social distancing measures so everyone can work as quickly and efficiently within the restrictive environments we are now operating. For example, we’ve introduced a one-way system in the warehouse so staff picking orders do not need to cross paths. We are also offering a wealth of advice and information through telephone, email, live chat and online materials. Some of our youtube tutorials have been viewed over 2 million times.”
Check the IBVTA website for updates on the UK situation
Meanwhile, the IBVTA has assured the public it is doing its utmost to stay in touch with local authorities and pass on up to date relevant information to its members. “The IBVTA worked late into the night and as early as possible this morning in order to get further clarification from governments as to whether vape stores can re-open, and as soon as we have that clarification, we will issue further advice.”
“We fully respect that this is a very difficult time, and as our phone lines are extremely busy today we appreciate your patience while we work hard to get the answers that best support independent vape businesses, their staff and most importantly, their customers.”