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Market Profile Southeast

Solar Eclipse Expected To Bring Economic Boost To Grocers, C-Stores

Lackey
Joe Lackey, president, Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association

Hoosier state ‘got lots of money,’ benefits from low cigarette tax that draws smokers from afar

Indiana is one of the top 20 locations in the world to view the solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, according to Joe Lackey, president of the Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association.

As part of the state’s Homeland Security Committee, Lackey is involved in planning for the event. When an eclipse went over neighboring Kentucky in 2017, it was not prepared for the massive influx of people who came to watch. “It was a nightmare,” Lackey added.

For 2024, the IGCSA has been asked to alert grocery and convenience stores and encourage them to overstock to handle demand. Thousands of people are expected to converge in Indiana, as the eclipse will be almost directly over Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play. Lackey described it as an economic boon that should pay a lot of benefits.

In other economic news, Indiana’s coffers are flush again this year, as Lackey said the legislature found “another billion and a half at the end of the session.”

“Indiana is very unusual compared to the rest of the nation. We’ve got lots of money. They basically are paying off all their debts and had no tax increases,” he said.

Lackey noted the state hasn’t raised cigarette taxes since 2016, which has helped convenience stores especially. That industry has seen a lot of expansion. Casey’s built a distribution center in Indiana, and another large chain is planning to open stores in the state in a couple of years, he said.

Indiana has a lower tobacco tax than its neighbors, Lackey said, “which means that we’re selling a lot of tobacco to out-of-state people, and that’s adding to our economy.” He attributed the lack of tax increases in the state to the revenue coming in from out-of-state buyers.

The IGCSA worked to get the stamping allowance on tobacco products raised this year. It had not seen an increase since 2016. Lackey said one of the IGCSA’s members lost $2 million last year stamping cigarettes for the state. “By raising that rate, we’re able to reduce that cost significantly.”

He said the association plans to advocate for raising the rate again next year, “to try to get it up where it needs to be.”

There hasn’t been a lot of growth in the grocery industry, although there has been some “changing hands of the stores.” The state continues to be a “strong big box platform,” Lackey said.

The number of independent grocers in Indiana seems to be declining, along with warehouses.

Labor continues to be an issue in the industry. “Labor has gone up pretty much 100 percent in the last 12 months,” Lackey said. “It’s pretty much that simple, and there’s no way to avoid that.”

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About the author

Treva Bennett

Senior Content Creator

After 32 years in the newspaper industry, she is enjoying her new career exploring the world of groceries at The Shelby Report.

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