Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Latest newsagency sales benchmark study results released

Mark Fletcher
January 30th, 2012 · 5 Comments

Yesterday I provided the results of the latest newsagency sales benchmark report to participating newsagents.

Overall, newsagents had a good end to 2011.  The year ended with better numbers over 2010 and 2010 ended over 2009.

I am concerned about the difference between newsagencies.  There is no doubt in my mind that the strong are getting stronger. They are achieving growth from specialisation and diversification. This is evident in the sales data.

Even the data itself speaks to the difference between businesses. Newsagencies with well-managed data perform better. I can assess attention to data management in department and category structure and in whether every item sold in the newsagency is being scanned.  This is why I am able to say that newsagents who are better at managing data will have more successful businesses.

What is interesting about this is that newsagents have complete control over how data is managed in their businesses.

Here are the newsagency sales benchmark highlight results for type of newsagency:

  1. Increase in basket depth. What is particularly evident is the increase in basket depth among more newsagents.  In short, more newsagents are selling more in each sale.  This is vital to our success as retailers. Not enough though, less than half the newsagencies in the study achieved this – at least this is up from just a third a year earlier.
  2. City versus country. It was harder to separate the results here compared to the last study where country newsagencies clearly performed better.  The data indicates to me that city newsagencies ended the year stronger than their country counterparts.  There difference was not as obvious.  That said, bigger country newsagencies performed better than smaller.
  3. Shopping centre versus high street. Except for a few of the larger high street newsagencies, shopping centre businesses performed better, more of them were in the grouping with better sales results compared to the year earlier.
  4. Rural. I looked at the data I had from a group of rural main street newsagencies. They did okay. Some growth, some increased sales efficiency – getting existing shoppers to purchase more. The challenge here appears to be driving more traffic.

Now let’s look at the results by key departments.  Note that for some departments I use unit sales and others I use dollar revenue:

  1. Magazines. 26% of newsagents in the study reported unit sales growth with an average growth of 3%.  Of the newsagents reporting unit sales decline, the decline was 7%. NOTE: I have not included data for newsagencies reporting extreme results as this would skew the results. For example, sales in one of my newsagencies are up 45%. This is primarily due to a complete magazine relay, considerable external marketing and store specific opportunities.  Rural and regional newsagencies were more likely to report a decline than a city based newsagency.  At the MPA category level, women’s weeklies, motoring titles and sports titles were the most challenged, reporting higher declines.  Food, crafts, crosswords and special interests continue to be the stand out categories, recording growth.
  2. Greeting cards. 57% of newsagents reported revenue growth.  The average growth from this pool was 3%.  Of those reporting decline, the average decline was 4%.
  3. Stationery. 60% of newsagents reported growth in stationery revenue in a major turnaround from the previous study.  The average growth was 3%.  The average decline in revenue for stores experiencing decline was 6%.
  4. Ink. 46% of stores participating in the study separate ink sales data allowing further analysis.  62% of stores reported ink revenue growth with 5% the average increase.  Of those reporting decline, the average decline was 3%.  Ink continues to be an important product category given the habit nature of the product. Win an ink customer on price and or service and you have them for life.
  5. Gifts. 52% of the stores in this study have a gift department.  70% of these reported an average sales increase of 8% in gift revenue.  Of those reporting a decline the average was 6% which is a concern.  The big concern in the gift data is that almost half newsagents do not have a permanent gift department. This is dreadful. A newsagency is a natural fit for gift sales. This is an easy department to move into, one over which you have pricing, ranging and other control. It is a department through which a retailer can shine.
  6. Newspapers. 40% of newsagents reported an increase in newspaper sales.  The average increase was 2%.  Of those reporting a decline, the average decline was 8%.

Here are some other stats from the assessment of the data provided:

  1. Average basket size. There are 1.63 items in the average newsagency basket not including lottery products. This is significantly up on the recent average.  More than 50% of newsagents experienced an increase in basket size.
  2. Customers served. 54% of newsagents experienced an increase in customers presenting at the sales counter. The average increase was 3% – not considerable but welcome nevertheless.

In the last study it was capital city shopping centre newsagencies which were most challenged.  In this study they are the ones enjoying the best results. This speaks to the fickle nature of shopping centre sales performance.  While am no economist it could be that they are the first to experience trends.


Category: Newsagency benchmark · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Megan // Jan 30, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    Mark, you said that “newsagents who are better at managing data will have more successful businesses”.
    I wonder whether you’ve confused cause and effect. Might it not be the case that successful business people put more effort into managing their data – that is, that maintaining accurate and effective data just seems like obvious good sense to a successful business person?



  • 2 Mark // Jan 30, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Megan, either statement is accurate. Good data management drives good decisions. Good management results in good data management.


  • 3 Peter // Jan 30, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    As a wise person once said to me: In god we trust, for everything else give me data…


  • 4 Tony // Feb 2, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Hi Mark,

    I am a certified lean six sigma black belt who is interested in newsagency industry, happy to help analyze the data for you if you need.



  • 5 Preparing advice on a magazine relay - Just another WordPress site - computer news and internet information // Feb 5, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    […] the publishing of the results of the latest newsagency sales benchmark study earlier this week I have been asked by at least 20 newsagents about how to do a magazine relay. […]


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