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This time last year, convenience store owners and operators were dealt a double whammy: First they had to adapt to the recently passed federal minimum tobacco purchase age of 21; then they had to pull product in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ban on most flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Next, the coronavirus swept the country, and no one knew how the category would fare during lockdowns.

For many businesses, consumer response was surprisingly positive. Early in the pandemic, anecdotal reports indicated customers stocked up on virtually all tobacco SKUs.