I sat down yesterday to write a post about what 2017 holds in store for Australian newsagents and their businesses and the resolutions we should contemplate. I have decided that would be a waste of time.
Everyone in the channel knows what will happen. But here is a list of what I think will happen in Australia anyway:
- Magazine sales will continue to decline. Some magazines will close.
- Newspaper sales will continue to decline. Some daily newspapers will cease to publish daily.
- Tobacco product sales will continue to decline.
- Stationery sales in newsagencies will decline.
- Greeting card sales in newsagencies will decline.
- Over the counter lottery sales will decline.
- At least 400 retail newsagencies will close.
The situation will be worse than it need be because too many suppliers ignore the specialist nature of our channel and too many newsagents do not run competitively engaged businesses. These are suppliers who chase mass, thinking that is the answer (when it is not).T hese are the retailers who think opening their door in the morning is the only marketing activity in which they need to engage, the retailers who only buy from traditional suppliers, the retailers who are more comfortable as agents than entrepreneurial retailers, retailers who see the ownership of a business as their pension rather than a career.
The resolutions for 2017 ought be: chase change is if your life depends on it, do less agency revenue and more 50% GP and more revenue. Chase having people asking if they are in a newsagency when they are in your shop.
Challenging their perception of your business ought be mission critical in 2017.
Selfishly, though, here is what I’d like to say – if you are not going to seriously change your business and would prefer instead to coast on the tracks of steady decline in traffic, revenue and profitability, shut up shop now and get out of the way. A decaying retail newsagency harms the many others who are transitioning their businesses. A decaying newsagency is taking some revenue the rest who are here for the long term could benefit from for a brighter future.
The thing is – I don’t want you to close or decline. I want every newsagent to be in the group of transformers. I want every newsagent to be experiencing seriously growing overall GP percentage. I want every newsagent to make more money fro their business in 2017 than they did is 2016. But achieving these things requires a change in mindset, renewed energy and guts to stop being an agent.
Imagine the power we would unleash is the 3,000 newsagency businesses in Australia today all turned 90 degrees or more away from their current path. We can take on supermarkets, gift shops, toy shops and other retail channels if we play outside what has been traditional for our channel. I am optimistic that enough are doing this and more will join them. For those there can be good times ahead.
I guess that brings me to the simplest resolution: nice as traditional is, for newsagents there is no future in being traditional so stop it, ditch it and go make your own business based in what you want to stand for in your local community.
In 2017, let your business whatever that is and not a business defined by an out of date shingle.