Dairies that have taken tobacco off their shelves in the face of relentless robberies are paying a hefty price to stay safe.
One Waikato business is trying to diversify and get by on local patronage while another has taken the hard line as a last defence in what they believe is their downfall.
Both convenience stores made the bold move to deter robbers after being repeatedly hit by thieves.
Cigarettes are often the prime prize of criminals targeting dairies and service stations around the country.
Dairy owners should not be forced to decide between their personal safety and stocking a legal product.
The Government (mainly the last one) has created this problem with massive excise tax hikes on tobacco. They used to be a good way to discourage smoking but they have now reached a level where they have fuelled a huge increase in robberies and black market sales.
Te Kowhai Food Centre, a country store 15 minutes drive from Hamilton, went smoke free last September after being subjected to at least 10 armed robberies and ram raids.
The move has cost the dairy around $700 a week but owner Tao Liu says taking the hit is worth it to protect his family and staff.
Co-owner Candy Tang said the store was experiencing 20 per cent less turnover than the same time last year.
The business had been selling an estimated 30 packets of cigarettes a day. An average packet of cigarettes now costs around $26.
At a margin of 10 per cent, Tang said they were losing roughly $78 a day, leaving them around $13,500 out of pocket in six months.
But Tang said it wasn’t only the loss from cigarette sales – customers who popped in to purchase smokes also bought other grocery items.
“And some customers don’t come in because we don’t sell cigarettes anymore.”