Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Early magazine returns of some could hurt the whole newsagency channel

Mark Fletcher
January 25th, 2012 · 64 Comments

A magazine recently had a sell through of 91% in a study group of newsagencies, a pretty amazing result. Many of the stores in the data group sold out. The problem is that every newsagency in the selected data group early returned the title. In fact, they early returned 37% of the inventory they received.

The sales result for the issue makes the rely return move look dumb. Most of the newsagents involved lost sales as a result.  Maybe they are rich enough and don;t want the additional bottom line profit. Maybe they are not planning to sell their newsagency and therefore don;’t want every extra dollar in valuation they can achieve.

The performance of this particular title in the newsagencies studied shows that every newsagent included, without their knowledge, in the data study was clueless about early returning this title.  The result is not only a failure for the businesses but a failure for the newsagency channel.

The actions of these dumb newsagents is giving one publisher good commercial reasons to look outside our channel.

Dumb early return decisions, decisions not based on good data, could be a factor in publishers more widely seeking out alternative outlets for their magazines.

Publishers talk. They share stories about how their titles are treated by newsagents. It is entirely possible that the ill-considered actions of some newsagents could hurt the whole channel.

While newsagents bleat and moan about things they cannot change, it frustrates me that they do not invest time in resolving things they can change.

I urge newsagents to review their early returns process. If you are not sure about the criteria to use, ask. Plenty of professional help is available.

We must change how we handle early returns for the future of the channel.

Footnote: While I am referring to one issue of one title here, this post could be about hundreds of magazines. I know of at least six Australian publishers with titles which have been treated as I have described.


Category: magazine distribution · magazines · Newsagency management

64 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wally // Jan 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    First of all can we know the magazine involved.
    Secondly I dont understand how we can get a sell through of 91% if 37% were returned. Your previous blog explains a lot. We have already had that stamp rubbish sent to us and a 25% margin and the cost of return explains it all. If i get a new magazine foisted on me I will keep one and early return the rest. If it is sold the distributors have the means and sales data to send me another. The Wheels magazine replenishment stock is a case in point. Get 5 delivered sell 2 and they immediately send 2 more. So they can do it. Why dont they for other magazines and set the correct allocation in the first place.


  • 2 Jill // Jan 25, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Why is the data not used to stop oversupply?


  • 3 Carol // Jan 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Exactly right Jill. They have all our data via exchangit and supply 10 if you regularly sell 3 etc. The are paid for how many they distribute not how many are sold so don’t care about over supply. It goes back to the system being wrong. Don’t make us the bad guys here.


  • 4 Richard // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Mark how many other magazines were in the study group over the period of time you looked at it? Did we get it wrong 1% of the time.
    Maybe we as newsagents do get it wrong from time to time but how can the distributiors get it wrong MOST of the time?


  • 5 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Richard, this was just one issue of one title. Based on the data and how the title performed where newsagents did not early return it, the group of stores lost, between them, around $1,200 in sales.

    I don;t know about you but I don’t want to lose one dollar in sales.


  • 6 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Wally, the sell through figure is based on stock newsagents put on the shelf. The title is irrelevant.

    Jill, this post is not about oversupply. The title was not oversupplied.

    Carol, on this title, the group of newsagents I saw data for are the bad guys. They stewed up.


  • 7 Jill // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    Mark, you are saying that they have this data, but why aren’t they using it to the advantage of everyone, not just themselves. I use our system to check on sales verse supply and make no apologies for trying to keep my cash flow in check by early returning. If I get it wrong sometimes, I am not dumb, I am probably so overwhelmed with the volume of oversupply and don’t always have time to take each title to the computer to check at the end of month sweep for returns.


  • 8 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Jill, In this instance, the newsagents I refer to were dumb. There was absolutely no evidence in their data to early return what they did the day the title came out.

    I accept that we all make mistakes on early returns from time to time. This is not one of those instances.

    Look at it from the publisher perspective. There is no doubt that they lost sales as a result.

    As a channel we need to cop it and accept that there are some people in our ranks who are making stupid decisions.


  • 9 Y&G // Jan 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Mark, are you saying that the subjects in this ‘study’, were included without the knowledge of having been ‘included’??
    That’s how it reads. Can you please clarify that for me?


  • 10 Brendan // Jan 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Was this mag early returned on receipt or to beat the end of the month statement and also relevant is the on sale date. At the moment I am returning week 5 returns for some mags because the next issue is on the shelves today and I don’t have the space to display two issues of the same mag at once. Most unrealistic of the publisher in this instance.


  • 11 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Y&G I have been shown data for one issue of one title. The newsagents involved would know what they did. What they would not know for sure is that their action cost them certain business.


  • 12 Steve // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Hi Mark. First of all thanks for an excellent blog, as someone who purchased a news agency recently its been a wealth of knowledge. However in this situation I think it would be helpful to name the magazine so we can make our own assessments of the situation otherwise its quite meaningless.


  • 13 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Steve, I don’t have permission to name the magazine. I can vouch for the data, that the magazines were returned immediately – without seeing if they would sell.

    I can understand an early return weeks into the on sale and if the title is showing no signs of selling what has been sent. returning the day of arrival when there is data to indicate that you will sell the inventory is, as I have noted, dumb.

    We need to accept that there are some people in newsagencies making dumb early return decisions and that this reflects poorly on us as a channel.


  • 14 Paul // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Maybe my maths is off but if they had a 91% combined sell through, returned 37%, yet some had a 100% sell through doesn’t it also mean that some in the study group were potentially also oversupplied ?

    Plenty of variables I suppose such as how they formed or chose the study group, what the actual 100% sell through to non 100% sell through agncies was and indeed the total number in the sample.

    Mark did the newsagencies return more than their previous sales amounts or is this just what the publisher predicted their new sales amount would be. I think many would be very sceptical about a “predicted” figure even if it did turn out to be correct on this occassion as there seems to be plenty of occassions when they certainly do not get it right. I could give several examples from my own supply today by way of example from both G&G and Network that would seem to be badly wrong (though I think its in part due to the end of month cash grab)


  • 15 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Paul, the 91% sell through is of the stock which was retained.

    The study group created itself, by the early return behaviour.

    I have seen data for at least twenty magazine titles recently where newsagents early return such that they cannot achieve previously consistent sales.

    A key driver of early return behaviour is gross over supply. sadly, newsagents see poor behaviour around one title and it causes them to hit back in the way they deal with another title.


  • 16 Chris // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    What about this one : Received 150 copies of the AWW – average sales from last 5 issues – 59.5. Will I early return – absolutely….


  • 17 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Chris, on that data I’d be looking at early returning 40 copies.


  • 18 Paul // Jan 25, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Why only 40 Mark ?

    We only sell between 38-42 a month on average but if I received an extra 40 on top of the 48-50 we normally receive I’d be wondering whos going away party they were trying to fund at Network !

    Surely a 20% lift in sales would be exceptional which would only justify keeping an addittional 12 – 15 copies ?

    Just interested in your thinking behind the figure you came up with and whether I’m looking at it completely wrong.

    Thanks for your running replies on this topic so far Mark !


  • 19 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Paul, I am allowing for factors I don’t know about. for example, the Meryl Streep cover may perform better than usual for AWW. there may be an ad campaign we’re not aware of. It is not in ACP’s interest to grossly oversupply so I am allowing for there to be a factor we are not across.

    I could be wrong. The problem is that I don’t know. So, if I am early returning I tend to be conservative. I also usually do it later in the on-sale, except for supply in the last week.

    In terms of replies – no moderation. This is a warts and all blog. The more comments the better. But we need to remember that publishers read this.


  • 20 Brett // Jan 25, 2012 at 2:29 PM


    I know your intent with the early return issue, however, you state that they sold 91% of the stock held, therefore they still had stock to return, they may have indeed early returned exactly the right amount?

    Early returns are an almost instinctive action now after years of distribution abuse. The publishers are being hurt by this and so are we.

    You may be the one to be able to organise a sit down chat, publishers and the ANF. The model is broken, we all know this. Its time for the model to be fixed.

    In 2012 the word is that retail will be even harder. NOW is the time to extract every cent we can, efficiency will be king, the entire industry, publishers, distributors and agents need to be on top of our parts of the chain.

    Can we make this happen this year???


  • 21 Jon // Jan 25, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Not all newsagents can keep all titles. Maybe they chose to go with a higher volume and/or higher netting title? What about agents who have had a poor sell through rate with this title previously and under-estimated the popularity of a particular issue.

    I think that there are too many variables to call some newsagents dumb over one issue.

    We only do early returns at the end of the month. We will keep all the titles that we feel will not give a return on the pocket space on the back shelf (fortunate to have a large back room – but some don’t) as you never know who may wander in.

    Having said that, I have made some incorrect decisions but I know I get my early returns right more often than the distributors get their supplies right.


  • 22 Shayne // Jan 25, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Today we received 8 copies of the Australasian stamp catalogue, a title we got rid of in 2009 because we could not sell 1 copy. At $17.50 per copy, and sent in the last week of the month, am I going to invest a lot of money in this title and also “kick” some other title off our already full magazine stands? I’d say not.

    We too are supplied with enough titles to fill our shop 3 times over, so as others have said there are many variables which cause early returns.


  • 23 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Jon, in this case where the newsagents decided to forego certain sales and where we now know that this is what happened it is fair to call the action dumb. Let’s call a spade a spade. Some of us make stupid decisions which hurt the rest of the channel and get publishers looking elsewhere.


  • 24 SHAUN S // Jan 25, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Mark when you say publishers will look else where what do you actually mean by this , i am confused because there are not a great deal of places left that do not have magazines already .


  • 25 Jon // Jan 25, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Mark, many of your blogs are about unjustified oversupply of some titles ( justified by your previous sale records ). Do you early return these? Who’s not to say you might not get a surge in sales for a particular issue?

    Unless all newsagents are receiving the full results of these studies / data ( ie. Title, issue, amount and cross section of newsagents involved, volume the mag normally sells etc ) how can we agree with you that this was dumb.

    If publishers want to improve their sales then wouldn’t it be better to supply all newsagents with all results?

    All businesses are able to improve. But unless we are seeing this reliable date for ourselves we can only go by what is both working for us and what we are willing to try.

    In an ideal world we could carry as many lines of products as we could but hey, were not Woolworths.


  • 26 Jim // Jan 25, 2012 at 8:50 PM


    re your comment 19 – thank God publishers do read this blog because obviously no-one at Gotch or Network does – or if they do they either don’t understand this industry-killing issue or don’t care (and I suspect the latter).

    Dumb as you might think it is to early return, some of us – who live in constant fear and dread of month end when the gnomes of Silverwater make seemingly arbitrary decisions as to whether or not you go on stop – are driven to make decisions which might seem irrational and dumb to some but to us, at the time, it makes perfect economic sense.

    Without knowing the circumstances of the return of the particular title mentioned here I find it ironic and convenient that the publishers are using data presumably supplied by the distributor when feedback from other publishers is that the quality of data supplied to them is too poor to make decisions on. You can’t have it both ways – if the data is of sufficient integrity to publish this newsagent damning assessment then it is of sufficient integrity to be used for managing supply. I would also ask whether the publishers consulted with their distributor to determine whether any supply issues were involved. The one constant in any argument involving early returns, over/under supply, etc, etc, etc is distribution yet once again newsagents are the target of criticism, perhaps because they are easy targets.

    Perhaps if the publisher took up the cudgels with the distributor and insisted on being given access to accurate data then print runs would be appropriately set and over-supply would disappear – but that wouldn’t suit the current publisher-gouging, newsagent-screwing distribution model would it?

    Perhaps it’s time to revisit the magazine czar argument but then that wouldn’t suit the model either!


  • 27 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 9:29 PM


    I don’t think that newsagents who early return are dumb and have not said this.

    There are some early return decisions which are dumb.

    Newsagents who early return leaving less stock in-store than their average recent sales is dumb. Newsagents early returning a new title which has been carefully been allocated is dumb. Newsagents early returning stock the day of release and ignoring a major TV campaign is dumb.

    In the early return example I originally wrote about, the publisher used sales data. The majority of the early returned stock would have sold. This is why I label the move by the newsagents as dumb.

    We need to accept that some newsagents are making dumb decisions.


  • 28 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 9:36 PM


    I don’t early return leaving me less than recent average sales.

    I don’t early return new titles the day or week of on-sale.

    Publishers don’t want to widely polish data as it is commercially sensitive.

    You need to trust me that what I have written is accurate. I stake my reputation on it.


  • 29 Peter // Jan 25, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    Magazine oversupply, was that the original inspiration for the movie “groundhog day”.

    I think there’s more opportunity for a resolution of the israeli-palestinian conflict.


  • 30 Mark // Jan 25, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Shaun, Magazine publishers have a range of options:

    Australia Post, subscriptions, digital and alternative retail outlets – fabric and craft shops, toy shops, auto parts outlets. yes, disjointed but what if we push them away?


  • 31 Jim // Jan 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM


    I take your point on the “dumb” early returns however this whole post and ensuing comments highlight the bleeding obvious – that publishers and newsagents are both being screwed.

    This is not an argument about accuracy of the data you have seen but it raises the question of why some publishers complain that data integrity is an issue for them yet others are happy to use the data. As one of the thousands of users of a properly configured POS system, I have complete faith that my sales numbers are so close to 100% accurate (and this is borne out through the returns process) that it irks me no end to be told that my data is inaccurate.

    What is inaccurate is the interpretation and manipulation of that data such that it seems to mysteriously move from highly accurate to unreliable as its moves through the bowels of the laughable XchangeIT to the ever-problematic servers of the distributors then on to the publishers in a format and form that no doubt tells the publishers what the distributors want them to hear. It would seem that as this data passes by the allocation gurus, they interpret reality and accuracy differently to the rest of us and go on their merry way emptying the warehouse on a weekly basis.

    I might be flogging a dead horse on the magazine czar concept but until there is some fair and equitable way of managing print runs and newsagency supply then the risk of publisher-newsagent alienation will continue – even if you remove the “dumb” ones from both ends of the supply chain because there are far more “dumb” operators in the middle.


  • 32 Wally // Jan 25, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    If i am dumb so be it. Last month my returns were $7100 out of a billing of $14100. Approx 50% which you would assume is oversupply. BUT I kept extra stock in December thinking and believing there would be greater sales in the holiday period. Normally my returns are 66% of my total billing. I have reduced my stock holding by almost $5000 which is now invested in items where I am able to get a better mark up . So i now have a greater PROFIT. There is no cost of return for these goods. I set my own price and purchase my own quantities. In my area everyone from woolies to the service station to Bunnings to the craftshops and the autoshops sells magazines so I am not unique.
    It is a shame because magazines used to be unique to me and I would carry more stock. I sent back all the stamps in the previous blog. I buy stamps that i make a better mark up on. That is why I sent back all the calendars as well.I must be dumb. Please tell me what magazine it was and I will tell you if I early returned it just to prove that I am dumb.


  • 33 Mark // Jan 26, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Jim, I agree that newsagents and publishers are the victims of a flawed model. The distributors act in cycles. Gotch is currently in a purple patch and Network is improving.

    Wally, you are not dumb if you consider each title prior to an nearly return and leave enough stock to grow sales beyond your average sales from recent issues.


  • 34 Luke // Jan 26, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    i think your post #30 Mark is already happening and as soon as they think they can get the majority of customers to accept the change into other outlets, like has happened with stationery, cards and other departments being diluted to every corner shop and his dog, we will be left holding the bag.
    They, the publishers will come up with a few bad newsagents to use as examples as to why we were shafted but it all started when they “had” to go into supermarkets over a decade ago, no the gate is open and it always looks greener on the other side. Publishers are doing it tuff (like the rest of us) but instead of focusing at their products, or the distribution model it is easier to blame the end supplier. Coles, Woolies and Australia post do not play fair and will spit the small publishers out if they do not perform.

    But before we get too paranoid, it is not only us, we have 4 jewellers in town that have been told they have 6 months to remove ALL pandora products out of their shops as they will now be retailing them themselves. More then one of these shops have spent big money on shopfits that now have to be taken down and will go broke once it is taken away. No warning, no talking just cop it, sound familiar? But as we go into Australia day, it is not in our nature to give in, keep your doors open at all costs as the worm will soon turn.


  • 35 Mark // Jan 26, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Luke I know of many publishers who appreciate newsagents and rely on our channel and want to continue to rely on our channel. Three of these publishers are ones who share early returns data with me.

    Our best approach is to make our shops compelling for customers and for publishers.

    The Pandora story is one I am quite familiar with because of my work also with jewellers. It’s not as clear cut as you put it.


  • 36 Luke // Jan 26, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    I would guess these publishers are the ones that would be killed off by going into other channels but we cannot survive on niche titles we need WD, NI, AWW as this makes up the bulk of our sales and these are the ones that do not appreciate us.

    As for pandora, there may be more to the story but like individual newsagents the small jeweller effected is not being told about this nor are they given an option. Mark you may be privvy to a lot more info from suppliers being who you are but most of us are treated like mushrooms and left to figure it out for ourselves.


  • 37 Y&G // Jan 26, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Luke, do you know why Pandora is taking back their retail?
    I really feel for the stores affected – surely there’s compensation in the offing re shopfits and stock?
    Pandora aren’t my favourite corporation. They do behave similarly to the likes of big publishers and brands, like coke et al, going after the little guy because they can.
    As a lampwork beadmaker / designer myself, I’m aware of just how overpriced and overrated the ‘genuine’ items are. And how ruthless they are over ‘copies’. Anyone can do a design, make the bead, but woe betide anyone who calls it a ‘pandora’ as a generic term. So they only got it half right – yes, a very popular product, but I’m sure they didn’t invent the concept. It’s about protecting the brand. It’s a no-brainer, however when you have a look at ebay and find ‘charm’ beads which flood the market from China. Like buying ‘Murano’ glass from Murano or Venice. The glass might very well be Muranese (I also use Muranese glass!), but they’re made in sweatshops, either on Murano, or in China. But they can get away with it. That’s what Pandora are trying to address, however very little gets done with the big Chinese manufacturers, so they go after the artisans, whose work is likely to be of far better quality than the ‘genuine’ article anyway.


  • 38 Istvan // Jan 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM

    In a perfect world, magazine publishers would receive weekly sales figures of their titles from newsagents.

    Publishers would then be able to calculate accurate print runs and newsagents would only be sent what they are likely to sell.

    With the publisher and newsagent singing from the same songbook, the distributor would … aah, distribute.

    Mark, you’re the software expert, what would it take to make NewsPubIT a reality?


  • 39 Mark // Jan 26, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Istvan, This could happen today if magazine distributors through XchangeIT would deal with newsagents commercially and show us how much they value accurate sales data.


  • 40 Luke // Jan 26, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    Y&G, there is an article on the insideretailing website about it, as far as compo I am being told it is only a fraction of what the shop fits cost to install. Like Mark states there may be more to the story then this but tell that to the local jeweller that invested in it and now has no future earning for the money invested and only has 6 months to dump the stock, he is selling it for up to 70% off to get out. He is a small business like most of us.


  • 41 eric // Jan 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    next time when we return full copies, we should damage rhem so they will never recycle them anymore!


  • 42 Y&G // Jan 26, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Yep, Luke, it sucks in a big way.


  • 43 Derek // Jan 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Marks post #28 seems to be a comprimise on the early return situation, however it is tough when supplied a heap on the last few days of the month.

    The problem is if one does not free up cash (decrease monthly invoice) what happens when you do not pay the distributors on time?

    The nemesis called the Shop refit provided by Luke is the exact example of what can happen to any business, at no fault of the people involved may lose their business, this kind of thing cannot be identified by due dilligence.

    Luke if you are up to it, provide information so that any business or supplier can help in some way. As a community we can make their world a little bit happier.


  • 44 Luke // Jan 27, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Derek, like a lot of people talk about but not too many actually put into action that is SHOP LOCAL. Forget the Big jewellery chains or as far as newsagents go Officeworks or Big W and support your local retailers. In the end the money you think you are saving is costing local families their livelihoods. Look past the loss leaders and hype and in most cases the local guy can do it better and cheaper. Spport local retailers and more often then not they will support you by employing your family or giving back to community groups.
    I see a lot of retailers talk a good game about being local but then ignore other local businesses and shop with the multies themselves.
    Just on another example, we have had Dan murphy’s open up in town and the blokes that have raved about the great service from the local pubs and bottleshops in the past are now driving past to save a few bucks and they wonder why the locals are closing down.


  • 45 Derek // Jan 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM


    I do not disagree with you.

    Our world has changed, its got smaller, its got faster, it has a craziness about it. It has also got a new generation that does not know any different, they have been “branded” for years now to gravitate to these stores.

    The fallout as you say is local business’s are closing as well as employment opportunities, we are all facing challenges from what is happenning at a fast pace and uncertain future directions our business’s are going to take. I think we are somewhat lucky that our business’s have so many points of difference that hopefully we can come through the otherside, but one thing I know is change will be the constant in our business’s for a very long time.


  • 46 Luke // Jan 28, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    It has nothing to do with a changing world Derek, that is a cop out. It is about people being so short sighted that to save a few bucks now they will sacrifice their own future and that of friends and family. The people I have spoken about are being shafted by their own so called mates, the same people that then go around saying how bad it is that we have no more butcher shops, bakers, corner stores. If this is the changing world then god help us, but as the pollies keep showing us, loyalty is not a big part of Australian life as it was.
    I have not mentioned the internet, I am talking about locals that shaft other locals and in the end are not even saving that much money ( look deeper into the offers, it is all smoke and mirrors) .
    You asked what can be done, so this is what I think would help and if it is too hard then clip on your Coles/woolies badge and work for peanuts because for generations to come this is what is left.
    We celebrate Aust day and talk about mates helping mates but in the end it is about $$$.
    I am lucky enough that I am young enough and stubborn to keep pushing on but others are not so lucky, but don’t write it off as a changing world, the yanks and Europe have sent themselves broke so apple, Walmart and co can get rich, and what has it done for their people, we are lucky enough to only have 2 giants to fight not 20.


  • 47 Peter // Jan 28, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Luke, I shop at thriving butcher and bakery businesses. They are going gangbusters because they have fantastic product, probably more expensive than at large supermarkets, but much superior in quality.

    Poorly run butchers and bakeries are disappearing but good businesses that have developed a point of difference in quality, presentation and service are thriving.

    The arrival of the internet is helping weed out the good from the bad.

    You can’t blame people for seeking out significant savings through buying online. Often your not talking about just a few dollars.

    I bought a pair of sunglasses through that I saw in a local retail outlet for $395. I got them delivered from the U.S. for $185. Who on earth is going to part with an extra $210.

    Retail is constantly changing and evolving. Just as supermarkets ended the reign of the corner grocer the internet is tearing up business models for our generation.

    Plenty of good retailers will not be afraid of this change but grasp the new opportunities that are presented.


  • 48 Wendy // Jan 28, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    If you were to look at my data, you would call me an idiot newsagent with my early returns. What you (and the distributors) would (do) fail to see is that I gave up my delivery run in Oct last year and, despite making adjustments by email with Network and adjustments online with Gotch, my supplies have gradually increased back to the supply levels I had back when I had 10 subagents to distribute to. All I’m saying is sometimes things are not as they appear.


  • 49 Mark // Jan 28, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Wendy, if you are saying that you return early leaving less on the shelf than you would expect to sell then I would say the decision is dumb. However, I don’t think that is what you are doing.

    Newsagents need to have the guts to call it as it is. There are some of our colleagues making dumb decisions which will ultimately hurt us.

    Do not return leaving less stock on your shelf that you could reasonably expect to sell.


  • 50 Mark // Jan 28, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    Luke, Derek, Peter, people will purchase wisely, now more than ever. I shop online for some items where the saving is extraordinary. In my newsagencies I try and combat online and discount retailers by focusing on a unique and appreciated customer experience.

    The days of people buying locally to keep jobs local are, I suspect, over.


  • 51 Wendy // Jan 28, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    You’re right, Mark, that’s not what I am doing. My point was that if you only look at my data (and share that with publishers) without taking anything else into account, it most certainly would look like I am early returning stock that has previously sold very well.


  • 52 Wendy // Jan 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    And of course it’s not terribly bright to early return stock that sells, or, as you put it, stock on your shelf that you could reasonably expect to sell. Of course, that decision comes from checking data, assuming your data is accurate, which we are told it is not.


  • 53 Mark // Jan 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Wendy, I am not sharing any data with publishers. They are sharing it with me.

    Newsagent data is more accurate than the magazine distributors claim. The 1,750 Tower newsagents who follow the simple compliance advice from Tower will have accurate sales data in their systems.


  • 54 Jim // Jan 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM


    If newsagent data is more accurate than the magazine distributors claim (and I believe it is) and we have some publishers happy to use the data they are provided with whilst other publishers are told that newsagent data is too inaccurate or unreliable to be of any value then the conclusion has to be that magazine distributors are manipulating data to suit themselves. This being the case then surely the ACCC needs to be made aware of the situation and to bring these greedy bastards to heel.

    Why can’t publishers be fed their own data from XchangeIt – surely it wouldn’t take too much to be able to split a particular publishers’s data out and feed it to them direct. The incentive for XchangeIt would be a whole new set of fees they could rip off someone else. If a publisher isn’t interested, can’t afford or can’t use the data, them let them continue to receive the garbage they must currently be getting via their distributor.


  • 55 Luke // Jan 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Peter, I was never talking about the internet and your sunnies being so much cheaper from the US, people will never learn it is only hurting Australian workers. Lets just hope someone cannot buy what you sell so much cheaper?
    The Govt has made it near impossible to compete on price online as JB hifi is finding out, what I am talking about is us local retailers making a choice to support other local retailers if the price and products are comparible. I still shop in Big w but first I ask my other local retailers about what they can offer first and if it near the mark good if not then look elsewhere.
    Hallmark cards are the same price at the majors, so are magazines and a lot of other items we “have” to get from Coles/Woolies, so if we took the lead and practiced what we preach and supported other local businesses and they did the same to us then I’m sure the customers would do it as well.
    But we cannot expect the customer to support local if retailers like us do not either.
    Peter if you are a retailer then maybe you should ask the retailer of the sunnies what makes up his costs, he might tell you how much they cost him, then wages, then rent, but you can also buy a pair that look the same in Bali for about $10, so you got ripped off about $150 from the US?
    Where I come from most of the small business owners still talk to each other about ways on getting thing to improve and we are not back biting ourselves, this is what I thought being local was instead of just a catchphrase.
    Again, if it is too hard then go about what you are doing, but once they have finished with say the butchers, bakers, bottleshops, servos, electrical stores as well as to a extent newsagents then the prices will go up and wages down as walmart did in the US. They play a discount war to force the small operators out, then up goes the prices, so maybe we should look past our next pay.
    I’ve finished my returns for the month so am going home, good weekend all.


  • 56 Peter // Jan 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Geez Luke you need a beer or a good sleep, maybe make it both. Lighten up a bit, as I said good small retailers will still prevail.

    I still shop with small retailers where they are good and it is convenient for me to do so.

    But as Mark said “the days of people buying locally to keep jobs local are, I suspect, over”.

    P.S. my sunnies are phenomenal. Cheers


  • 57 Jarryd Moore // Jan 28, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    Any retailer with a long term marketing strategy based around the “shop locally” mantra is doomed before they start. I’ve yet to see any research that doesn’t conclude that the vast majority of people, in terms of their actions, do not consider “local” a high priority in the factor they consider when deciding where to shop.

    If one wants to make an economic case for keeping an artificially higher proportion of small business in the marketplace then that case must be made at a political/legislative level.

    Luke, the government has not made it impossible for Australian retailers to compete online. The 10% GST on goods under 1K is relatively negligible when one looks at the massive savings that can be made when purchasing from overseas retailers.


  • 58 June // Jan 29, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    I know early returns are a huge problem (to the publishers and distributors) but what about when Vogue Australia gets
    cut by 10 copies when you had a sell through the previous month.
    Xchangeit data must tell GG what we have sold so why would we be culled? They cost me at least $85 this month and
    there was absolutely no reason for the reduction as I had no returns at all and had sold out with 10 more copies than they sent me this month.
    It tells me that distribution is an ad hoc thing with the companies rather than a targeted supply. If they were serious they would never reduce a sell out supply.
    When the companies resort to “the data
    is not good enough” it boils my blood, especially after we newsagents have spent
    so much money on compliance.
    Has anyone else had a no 23 Fighter Aircraft sent back because it doesn’t fit on
    the supplied stand so the customers have
    purchased 22 with correct stands and then
    this one, this week, doesn’t fit.
    It beggars belief doesn’t it? I consider that to be gross incompetence on the part
    of the publisher to distribute something which is obviously faulty.
    $14.95 is a lot of money to spend each week and then find that the arrangement
    is disrupted because of a lack of excellence
    on the part of the publisher and distributor. Hopefully No 23 will be re-launched with the appropriate stand fitting.


  • 59 Mark // Jan 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    June, email Steve Oldridge at News magazines and ask the question about Vogue I am sure he would love to hear about lost sales.


  • 60 Jarryd Moore // Jan 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I think it should be clarified that there are two types of data being discussed here.

    1) Returns based sales data
    2) Scan based sales data

    The first type of data is that which shows how many of each magazine were arrived and how many were returned. To the best of my knowledge this data is accurate (otherwise newsagents would not get their return credits).

    The second type of data is that which shows how many magazines were actually sold (either at the POS, on account or to a subagent). This is the data that is considered poor – either by omission or a misuse of the POS system.

    Let’s be clear that the vast majority of allocation calculations can be made with the first type of data. While there is a delay in getting this type of data (the new issue has to be released before the old issue is returned) this is a relatively negligible factor in most circumstances.

    The second type of data is useful for making more complex allocation adjustments such as eliminating anomalies created by short term sale increases or declines, changes in subagent sales and changes to customer orders. However its most useful purpose is sales based replenishment. A lack of this type of data should not affect the vast majority of allocations being calculated correctly.


  • 61 Derek // Jan 30, 2012 at 10:42 AM


    I respect your passion and I understand what you are getting across, its loud and clear.

    When I asked what can be done, it was what can be done to help the local Jeweler in the way of the wider community somehow contributing to their financial situation, as a collective it is possible to help some people some times.

    Regarding the “Cop Out” rebuttal, if that is the way you see it their is nothing I can say for you to see it a different way.

    A lot of us do not neccessarily like what is happening, but I cannot change people’s characteristics, thought patterns and shopping habits.


  • 62 rick // Jan 30, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    off subject, anyone else get Hodgdon’s 2012 Annual Manual,( Shooting Times Annual)?
    An american gun mag, has a cover price of US8.99, yet we are expected to sell it for $29.95, needless to say it did not make it to the shelf. This is an overpriced crap mag, no wonder people are using the internet to purchase directly from overseas. No wonder we early return.


  • 63 SHAUN S // Jan 30, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    Rick i didn’t even make it to the point of a sales check ,straight into the returns box for it . On the OFF chance that someone wanted to buy it i wasn’t risking my money to see if it sells at that price .


  • 64 Vicki // Jan 30, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    Didn’t receive that one, but I generally return the US gun mags as their gun laws and ours are so widely different that the information is of no use to the reader. Hence the local guys (and gals) that are into shooting don’t buy them anyway.


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