Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement to increase the prices of tobacco and its derivatives by 100 percent, grocery stores and retail shops witnessed increased sale of cigarettes and tobacco ahead of implementing the tax on Sunday 12 pm, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.
Common tobacco brands are no longer available in several stores while the retail activity of soda and energy drinks, which have been also taxed, was not greatly affected.
Some have said that wholesale sales of these drinks has been suspended and rationed.
Grocery stocks run out
A retailer said that the grocery store where he works has run out of the two most common tobacco brands, adding that they are difficult to find in other shops considering the high demand in the past two weeks.
He also said that wholesale distributors have insisted not to increase their sales to grocery shops, noting that it is not unlikely that some people have stored products to make more profit when the tax is imposed.
Most popular coffee shops bought huge amounts of ‘mu‘assel’, a syrupy tobacco mix, during the past weeks and stored them to benefit after the tax is imposed.
A supervisor at a hypermarket said the sale of soda and energy drinks did not change much and the increase – if there’s any – is very little.