The COVID-19 crisis led to the enforced closure of on-trade outlets for almost half of 2020 in Bulgaria. This had a strongly negative impact on cigar and cigarillos companies as these products are closely tied to social life and the entertainment industry.
Some stockpiling was evident in cigars and cigarillos due to the COVID-19-related lockdown in 2020 as afficionados made sure they had sufficient stocks at home, given that non-grocery retailers and shopping centres were closed during the first wave in March-April and second wave of infections in November-December 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictive measures related to the closure of entertainment and consumer foodservice establishments, together with the necessity for social distancing, led to a shift towards smoking cigars at home in 2020. Unlike other EU countries, where COVID-19 measures were tight and encompassed restrictions on outdoor activities, including curfews in some countries, in Bulgaria these measures were only introduced for three weeks during the first wave of the pandemic, allowing smokers to continue to enjoy a cigar outdoors during the crisis.
Cigars and cigarillos is expected to return to moderate retail volume growth in 2021, followed by stronger rates over the remainder of the forecast period.
Forecourt retailers is set to emerge as an important channel for premium cigars and cigarillos in 2021 as shopping centres and large commercial centres accommodating the most popular premium cigar chain by Kaliman Karibe remain closed. The expansion of premium products such as cigars in forecourt retailers towards the end of the review period supported growth.
Although an economic crisis is expected to hit Bulgaria in 2021-2022, cigar consumption is likely to be less affected by this. The main consumers of cigars in Bulgaria are wealthy middle-aged men who are not expected to have budget constraints or change their consumption habits.
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This report originates from Passport, our Cigars, Cigarillos and Smoking Tobacco research and analysis database.
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