10.6 Retail value and volume of the Australian tobacco market

Last updated: November 2017     

Suggested citation: Scollo, M, Bayly, M. 10.6 Retail value and volume of the Australian tobacco market. In Scollo, MM and Winstanley, MH [editors]. Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria; 2016. Available from http://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-10-tobacco-industry/10-6-retail-value-and-volume-of-the-australian-tobacco-market

The three major tobacco companies operating in Australia are not required to report retail sales data to government. Tobacco sales data would be extremely valuable in monitoring trends in tobacco use and in evaluating the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions. Because of the low level of illicit trade in Australia, retail data are likely to provide a reasonably accurate estimate of total tobacco consumption in Australia and would provide an unbiased benchmark against which self-reported tobacco consumption survey data could be evaluated.1 Some sales data are collected by market research companies and are available for purchase at a high cost, although some researchers have been denied access to this data despite being willing to purchase it. Accordingly, much of the information reported in this and the following sections is drawn from market research reports that cannot be independently verified. 

10.6.1 Value and volume of the Australian tobacco market

Despite falling tobacco consumption and lower sales volumes of cigarettes in recent years, the value of tobacco sales has increased, due to price increases caused in part by taxation increases—see Table 10.3.1. In 2016—following four annual 12.5% increases in customs and excise duty—the taxation component ranged from about 60% of the retail price of premium brand cigarettes to up to about 70% of the recommended retail price of value brand cigarettes.

Table 10.6.1
Value and volume of retail sales of tobacco products in Australia, 2015 and 2016

Source: Euromonitor International. Tobacco in Australia. London: Euromonitor International, 2017.2 Data up to 2016 available for purchase or on subscription: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco

10.6.2 Comparison of cigarette sales with sales of other product categories from Australian supermarkets and grocers

In 2014, the total grocery value of cigarettes in Australia was $5.91 billion, representing a total of 9.08 billion cigarettes sold at supermarkets alone. This was a reported increase in value of 6.8% from the previous year. This increase in value is despite a decrease in volume of 4.1%.3 According to Euromonitor, although no precise data are provided, supermarkets gained actual volume share in cigarette in 2009, due to smokers switching from purchasing products from higher-priced convenience stores,4 while there was no real change in supermarket volume share from 2015 to 2016, at around 55%.2 A total of 15 billion cigarettes were sold in Australia in 2016,2  suggesting that 8.3 billion factory-made cigarettes were purchased at supermarkets. 

In 2016, consumers spent $7.81 billion on cigarettes in grocery retailers—a reported increase of 6.5% on the previous year.5 In previous years, cigarettes ranked second only to dairy produce in sales value, but in 2015 overtook dairy produce to be the highest-revenue grocery product category (Table 10.6.2).

Table 10.6.2
Ranking by sales value of leading product categories in Australian groceries and supermarkets, 2016 

Source: Retail World5

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1. Gartner CE, Chapman SF, Hall WD, and Wakefield MA. Why we need tobacco sales data for good tobacco control. Medical Journal of Australia, 2010; 192(1):3−4. Available from: http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/192_01_040110/gar11174_fm.html

2. Euromonitor International. Tobacco in Australia—2015 and 2016. London: Euromonitor International, 2017. Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco.

3. Retail World. Annual Report 2014.  Market sizes and shares. Retail World, 2014; December:30. 

4. Euromonitor International. Tobacco−−Australia, September. London: Euromonitor International, 2010. Last update: Viewed 01 July 2011. Available from: http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco.

5. Retail World. Annual Report 2015. Retail World, 2015.


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