By now, we're all pretty much accustomed to life dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us have been either out of work - or working from home and getting accustomed to this way of life.
At the wholesale and retail level, stock on tobacco products has remained fairly steady, supplying customers with their much needed tobacco to bide the time while stuck at home.
A couple months ago, sources from chain convenience stores reported that while customers didn't seem to be stockpiling, sales of tobacco products remained the same as prior to the pandemic.
Now that the initial stress of the pandemic has worn off, another issue is on the rise that most people aren't aware of.
In the course of normal business, manufacturers of tobacco products strategically house stockpiles of inventory in warehouses across the country to assist with the supply chain in getting their products to retailers and wholesalers as quick as possible. So, to make a long story short, the shelves in your local stores have been stocked because we've all been consuming those products "stored in the coffers" of supply warehouses.
Unfortunately, that supply chain has now run out and things are about to get pretty ugly.
Countries that produce your favorite brands of cigars, namely the Dominican Republic, have been on shutdown, just as we have. Getting back to production again is going to take some time - and we may not see them get back to regular production levels for months on end. Currently these plants are running around 20% capacity.
If you remember back in 2019 Hurricane Dorian tore through the Carribean where leaf tobacco was grown, you'll may also remember how it was impossible to find Backwoods, Game Leaf and other leaf cigars on the market.
That will soon be the case for most major brands of cigars sold in convenience stores today.
(And not to put anyone in panic mode, but let's not forget the fact that we're now officially in hurricane season. One major disaster in any tobacco source area - and it will be the "perfect storm" for a serious cigar shortage, both in mass market and premium products.)
So - what can you do to minimize the shortage of your favorite cigars? We have three recommendations for times like these.
1. Buy from major chain convenience stores. Although it's the most expensive and cumbersome recommendation - major convenience chains are a major pipeline for manufacturers to get product out to consumers - chain convenience stores such as WaWa and 7-Eleven are a good indicator if what you're looking for is getting scarce.
2. Stock up. There are several online stores that offer "gas station" cigars, typically at lower prices than you'd pay at the convenience store. Many of these online companies are also likely to have access to those cigars first once production is back on track.
3. Find an alternative. I know, I know. None of us really enjoy having to substitute our favorite cigar brands - but considering the situation - if we have to go with the next best choice for a couple months - it's not the end of the world. Today, a majority of brands sell similar - if not the same - flavors as other popular cigars on the market. If you can't find your favorite on the shelves - there are surely a couple other brands that are comparable. And if you're currently on a budget, there are some great alternatives on the market today that offer 4 and even 5 for a dollar flavors that will definitely "get you through the tough times" until your brand is back on the shelves. Show and Good Times are two great brands you should be able to find at your local convenience stores or online at stores.
The "new normal" for our daily routines has certainly changed - but things will eventually get back to the way things were. Until then, don't panic and take measures now to ensure you will have your favorite cigars you enjoy to get you through it all!
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