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Industry warned to ‘promote print’ or face sales slump in newsagents’ shops

The newsagents’ trade body has warned of a newspaper sales slump in its members’ stores unless the industry does more to “promote print”.

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents says newsstands will be “placed further back” in shops unless publishers show their print titles are “loved and nurtured”.

The criticism comes amid a call by the NFRN for Reach plc to “properly reward” retailers after the organisation discovered that a cover price rise on the Daily Record will be accompanied with a cut in the margin that its stockists receive to 20 per cent.

The Monday to Friday price of the Glasgow-based Record has increased by five pence to 85p as of yesterday, but the NFRN says retailers will receive 17p per copy sold, instead of 17.68p, because the percentage margin is dropping from 20.8 per cent.

The cover price increase came into effect yesterday

The cover price increase came into effect yesterday

The Saturday price of the paper will also increase by 10p to £1.30 which means retailers will receive 26p for every copy sold, rather than the 26.78p they would have received had pro rata terms been maintained.

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish said: “This latest move by Reach gives retailers yet another reason to give greater attention to higher margin categories and give these products more space in store to maintain or grow their bottom line.

“At a time when innovation in the market is few and far between, meaning that ongoing reasons for readers to purchase a newspaper are, sadly, lacking is it any wonder that the news category is becoming less relevant in independent retailers’ stores?

“We need the industry to promote print to our members and to their readers to ensure that newspapers are front of mind, loved and nurtured.

“The reality, otherwise, is that newsstands will be placed further back in our members’ stores and sales will fall yet further.”

Mr Reddish said he was keen to meet with senior Reach circulation personnel to discuss the change and “explore ways in which both parties can work together to continue to promote the Daily Record to ensure that readers still purchase it despite the extra cost to them and the decreased percentage copy margin to the retailer”.

Reach plc declined to comment when approached by HTFP.


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  • October 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    i would have thought that the NFRN would have known by now that we are already in a massive slump in newspaper sales which shows absolutely no sign of bottoming out . Shops are already turning away from newspapers and magazines as the sales have all but collapsed, so much so that it is not worth their while to ever bother stocking them .It is now a rarity for anyone under 30 to buy a newspaper.. May well be that within 20 or even 10 years print will be a novelty or high end item or only printed on demand.

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  • October 29, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    I wish the NFRN well and don’t blame them for playing the publishers at their own game by not promoting local papers but we all know copy sales of paid for dailies and weeklies by the big local groups are in free fall and aren’t “front of mind, loved and nurtured”, far from it,nor will they be in the future so the threat to “move news stands further back”does not have the clout it once might have had.
    With everything being gambled on digital news,the traditional local news paper is considered the poor relation and in the majority of newsrooms is treated as an intrusion on ‘the day job’ ,there’s no handling, delivery or third party costs incurred with online news publishing and with an expected phasing out of some print titles over the coming months it’s looking bleak for newsagents relying on local paper revenues.

    Time for the federation to renegotiate those deals and get what they can while they can.

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  • October 29, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    So few people bother buying a local rag these days that the threatened stance by the federation seems an empty one.
    Much better for newsagents to stock the emerging independent free weekly papers, competitors to the paid fors,which whilst not earning money for the stockist would attract new footfall and could likely result in add on sales of some of the other lines stocked.

    @Searcher57 specialist publications and
    magazine sales show little sign of decline and in some cases are growing due to their content being wholly specific and relevant to the publications subject, something newspapers have ceased to be and a big part of the reason paper sales are in an ongoing decline, as for the timescales you suggest. I’d say 2-5 years max is more likely.

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  • October 30, 2019 at 10:19 am

    It’s true that it’s a rarity for anyone under 30 to buy a newspaper but print isn’t necessarily on its last legs. Having spent many years commuting on busy trains, every morning you can look down a packed carriage and see a dozen or so people reading the Metro – why? Because it’s free and there’s a pile of them next to the ticket office, same time, same place. A £1.50 cover price and stacking next to the nationals puts local papers at a commercial disadvantage – which a lot of the independent free weekly papers are taking advantage of.

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  • October 30, 2019 at 11:06 am

    It’s true AndyN
    Perhaps we should say ‘paid for newspapers’ have no future.

    One of the key problems the main regional groups have is that whilst they’ve devalued their paid for newspapers in terms of resources and content, they’ve upped the cover price at every opportunity.
    This has hastened the copy sales decline and driven former readers and advertisers to their competitors.
    Expecting newsagents to stock the local paper in prime retail positions whilst cutting back the margins is both naive and arrogant, particularly at a time when the public are deserting their once essential local paper in their thousands.

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  • October 30, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    After years of calling the shots thanks to local publishers having monopolies the publishers are on the ropes and need the newsagents more than the agents need them these days.
    The NFRN have the upper hand so I’d say stand firm and demand a fair pro rata deal.

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  • October 30, 2019 at 1:04 pm

    @Ricardson , it is true that specialist magazines are holding their own , they always have done but a great many now are subscription only or can only be obtained from a newsagent by ordering. I work in a wholesaler and i can assure you the returns for magazines are staggering., when the average price is between 4 and six pounds for a mag is it any wonder the sales are dropping.they are pricing themselves out of existence. The same for newspapers they are trying to offset the loss in sales by increasing the price only resulting in a further drop in circulation, the latest price for the daily Record will ensure a further drop for that title as their comes a point the working man will stop buying it.

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  • October 30, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    @Searcher57 I agree with you and you have the insider view so I cannot argue with your view.
    My point is the publishers fill their newspaper page templates with irrelevant, generic and old news seen previously on line or via social media postings, ignoring the need to focus on publishing specific and relevant hyper local community news content which people would be prepared to pay for.
    Then they increase the cover prices and whine on about tough trading conditions and reduced markets when sales drop.
    When they’re all out of ideas and reader numbers plummet the last gasp go to tactic is to increase the cover price…then they seem surprised that so few people bother buying a paper, it’s not rocket science.

    I sometimes wonder if the big groups are so desperate to get online news to pay that they’re deliberately running down the paid for print side to justify their direction.
    In a declining market,charging more for less then expecting the newsagents to take a commission cut shows how desperate things have become.

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