Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

SMH article: the slow, painful death of our newsagents

Mark Fletcher
July 25th, 2014 · 8 Comments

The Sydney Morning herald overnight published a comment piece by Derek Rielly: the slow, painful death of our newsagents.

I was interviewed Wednesday for this article. The interview covered more than has been published.

My views are: yes, plenty of newsagencies have closed in recent years and some major suppliers treat us poorly and are busy moving elsewhere. However, there is GOOD NEWS. There are newsagencies that are growing. There are suppliers who work actively with our channel in exclusive ways.

It a newsagency closes, it’s on the owner. I have seen many turnaround situations.  I live this myself as I recently wrote when sharing the latest newsagency sales benchmark results.

The future of your business is up to you. The future of the newsagency channel is up to all newsagents.


Category: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jenny // Jul 25, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Good article. Sad that he only visited newsagency because of non delivery but the way he describes those closed businesses says it all.
    There was a little newsagency (home delivery) on the corner of a lane in Glebe where my son lived that closed about four years ago. My son would chat to the owner and he’d tell him how hard business was, but his little shop was just like the ones described in this article. When I think about that shop I wonder if something as simple as fresh paint, good lighting, some funky fixtures, great magazine range and other items relevant to the area, might have kept him open. His shop wasn’t on the main drag but it had coffee shops accross the road and a large office building on the next corner and an interesting mix of residents.


  • 2 June // Jul 25, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I don’t want to be rude to you guys in NSW, but all around Oz, your newsagencies (mostly) would rate in the bottom half.

    I found them dingy, dismal, poorly lit and dirty and while our industry (like many others) has been doing it a bit tough, cleaning, lighting and painting your shop and presenting a happy face is a winning combination.

    I apologise to those in NSW who are doing all the above but I have not seen very many good ones there.

    Maybe Derek should have travelled around Oz and had a good look because all the newsagencies in my vicinity are inviting, fresh and have a wonderful product mix.

    Having said that it is an indictment on our industry that such an article takes place in the very product that we are expected to sell.

    Personally, I think Derek was wrong.


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Jul 26, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    This is the fourth major media piece in the last year ‘reporting’ on the demise of our channel in the face of evidence of newsagents growing their businesses.

    It’s frustrating.

    We need to all work harder on those talking us down including the newsagents talking us down.


  • 4 Colin // Jul 26, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    It appears that some of our partners keep putting our industry down rather than being positive and therefore benefiting us and them. However Fairfax is bias that unless they change they will go down before newsagents.

    On the issue of our own industry there are some rogues out there that should either clean up their act or get out. Recently I would like to quote two instances where the newsagent acted inappropriately with the customer.

    The first where a lady went to her local newsagent in the Parramatta area after her son asked her to pick up a Penthouse for him not knowing much she asked the newsagent for assistance. He replied ‘this is your lucky day this bag of Penthouses is only $15.00″ which she paid for. When her son opened the bag the magazines had their covers removed obviously she was sold topped returns.

    The second instance was when a customer came in and paid me $2.00 for the Wednesday Telegraph I told her this is wrong as the cover price is only $1.30, she said that’s funny because yesterday she purchased the Daily Telegraph and was told it was $2.00 she felt cheated by the newsagent and I am using this loosely he should be called a thief!

    I certainly do not want people like this in my industry, I worked hard for the past 24 years to maintain a good image, however when you hear things like this no wonder customers go to supermarkets.


  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Jul 26, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Colin I hear you on this. It’s frustrating discovering the extraordinary difference between newsagents on ethics, price and service levels.

    We are only as good as out weakest link.


  • 6 Lyndon // Jul 29, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    I hope you’re sure about why there was a different price for the newspaper and that it was just a newsagent being greedy. Unfortunately, sometimes the dailies do have different prices at different places and I can vouch for that because Murdoch charges some of the newsagents more where I am in SA allegedly for freight and we have to pass that onto the customer – much to their (and our) disgust.


  • 7 NATALIE // Jul 29, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    And how many times do customers get their days mixed up (quite evident when they are buying lotto for tonight and they don’t have a clue what day it is).. They are ‘loose with the truth’ when they say bought it yesterday.. When docket produced you are subtley trying to point out it was actually Saturday not Monday Lol.

    I’m not sticking up for dodgey newsagent operators but I think you have to be careful when you are taking the word of one over the other.


  • 8 Bill W // Jul 31, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Everyone is entitled to an informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

    Rielly’s comment’s are totally ignorant. “10 years ago there were 5,000 newsagencies now there is only 4,000” Well 10 years ago I was selling 2.5 times the amount of Saturday newspapers I am now. Add to that magazines in decline at 7% p.a. over the same period, and Rielly expects his local newsagent should look exactly the same as it did, just for the convenience of his one of purchase because his home delivery didn’t arrive. A home delivery that undercuts his local newsagency.


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