Estancos lifeline

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Daniel Lobo/Flickr.com


CONSUMERS could soon be able to do their weekly shop when they pop into the tobacconist.

A modification of a Royal Decree will allow official tobacconists, known in Spain as estancos, to sell a wider range of products besides tobacco.

And this means that as well as stocking up on cigarettes customers would be able to buy food, like cheese and ham, clothes and alcohol from the 222 official tobacconists in Almeria.

The hope is that the estancos will benefit from increased trade and a wider variety of products to sell as sales of tobacco products decline.

Since they were first licensed 400 years ago, they have only been allowed to sell a limited range of products for smokers, plus stamps, lottery tickets, stationery and official government forms.

In return they were awarded a licence – traditionally given to war widows – which gave them a local monopoly on tobacco products. That still exists; other businesses selling cigarettes must buy them from the local estanco, ensuring tobacco is always cheapest from the official shop.

Several estancos have already provided letters of intent to start selling items like coffee, paté, alcoholic beverages and ham. 

The president of the Tobacco Distributors Association, Francisco Javier Garcia, said: “It is very good news for tobacconists, even though our main market must continue to be tobacco and stamps.”

Under the new regulations estancos must open eight hours a day from Monday to Friday and four hours on Saturdays. 

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