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Green shoots can come in all colours, shapes and categories

Mark Fletcher
March 10th, 2018 · 36 Comments

The green shoots to which I referred in my latest newsagency sales benchmark report can come in different shapes, sizes and categories. These two receipts represent an example of the green shoots to which I refer in the report.

These receipts are from one of my newsagency businesses newsXpress Southland. They are a day apart. Each reflects a single sale, from a single category of product not common in newsagency businesses.

They two sales are part of plenty of sales this week from the same category.

Some of the sales came from shoppers new to the business, attracted by social media engagement.

The wins are: new traffic delivering good margin revenue from a new product category, which is leveraged into on-going business.

These receipts are one example from this business. There are plenty more, plenty of other categories, plenty of green shoots stories out there in plenty of newsagencies.

Each green shoot in any retail business is an opportunity for leveraging more success, and should be celebrated.

There is no big secret here. Any retailer can play outside tradition. Some playing works, some fails. Failure is goof for the learning.

The receipts are presented as evidence of success that can come from playing outside what has been usual for newsagency channel businesses. They are also presented as motivation.

For each of us in business ur success is ours to pursue and own.

Yes, this is a newsXpress. I know that will bother some. I don’t care. What I do care about is that there are newsagents who need motivation to work on their business, to find new traffic, to sell better margin products not common for the channel. Either case this for yourself or join a group, any group, with a track record of helping you achieve this. But to NOT do nothing.

Footnote (17/3): On the particular transaction covered in the second receipt, the store manager has been on leave and I have left the issue of the apparent GST mistake for them to investigate as I am overseas. This investigation was done yesterday, Friday. The receipt is wrong because some items in it were flagged in the stock file, incorrectly, as GST free. The items were new to the business the day before and received into the software the day before. The GST flag for the items has been corrected and remedial steps taken to ensure BAS reporting for the quarter is correct. The software has a GST audit facility which would have caught this too.


Category: Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

36 responses so far ↓

  • 1 David // Mar 10, 2018 at 9:46 AM

    GST appears to be incorrect on second invoice. You may wish to fix this to satisfy the Taxman.


  • 2 Factory Worker // Mar 10, 2018 at 1:43 PM

    It seems funny that on the second receipt that the customer tendered exactly $128.95 in cash.

    I would of thought that you would pay that amount on a card. If you did pay cash I would have thought the most likely scenario would be the customer handling over $130.00 with the staff handing back $1.05.

    Also why did you keep the receipts? Or are they duplicates?


  • 3 Michael // Mar 10, 2018 at 1:53 PM

    Does this not happen when simply using “End sale” Instead of “subtotal”. Most people can work out the change themselves. Cept a lot of kids of the new generation lol.


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Mar 10, 2018 at 4:21 PM

    David, appears so, being followed up.

    Factory Worker, it is a function of how the sales person recorded the payment. Nothing odd.

    Michael, yes.


  • 5 Andrew T // Mar 11, 2018 at 6:21 PM

    Fake news. Again


  • 6 Mark Fletcher // Mar 11, 2018 at 9:37 PM



  • 7 Jason // Mar 12, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    It’s not really evidence of success, it’s evidence of a GST compliance issue and two above-average sales that stuck out enough to reprint and take a photo of.


  • 8 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 4:43 AM

    No worries Jason. Maybe do a poll of how many newsagents have done sales this size of this type of product. There will be some. But it will be rare, based on the basket data I see. The post is designed to say to newsagents that this is possible.


  • 9 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 13, 2018 at 9:26 AM

    Agree, these sales becoming the norm for some but not enough.

    The second sale where GST has not been applied to various items would have auditor brain doing somersaults.


  • 10 Ken Wilson // Mar 13, 2018 at 10:08 AM

    Colin, I’d suggest “MOST” are not getting enough of these sales. Every failing business has green shoots, but usually there is not enough of them to be financially successful.


  • 11 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 10:15 AM

    These sales are in a business tracking 12% year on year revenue and an overall GP% for there business of north of 45%. I think any newsagent can achieve this. It’s not easy, but it can be done.


  • 12 Ken Wilson // Mar 13, 2018 at 2:46 PM

    Hands up all Australian retailers tracking 12% year on year growth? Oh, only one!


  • 13 Mark Fletcher // Mar 13, 2018 at 2:52 PM

    No, Ken. There are plenty. Your newsagency businesses collapsed. That is your story. It’s like you want it to be others. Go away.


  • 14 Ken Wilson // Mar 14, 2018 at 1:49 PM

    Ok Mark, always falling back on the failed business thing. Yep, I failed at Newsagencies so I know what numbers are required to be financially successful. Shopping centre traffic numbers are well down, only a handful of National relevant retailers are above CPI growth. NO newsagency is running 12% year on year growth…nobody!


  • 15 Mark Fletcher // Mar 14, 2018 at 2:26 PM

    Ken make an appointment and let’s meet face to face and see the data for yourself. I have shared this same raw data in several newsagency business forums recently.


  • 16 Ken Wilson // Mar 15, 2018 at 8:01 AM

    Mark, I’ve seen enough inaccurate figures from Newsagents to last a life time. To guage a businesses financial credibility takes more than looking at a sales report. The fact that you produced two sales receipts from consecutive days that have GST discrepecies is a testament to that fact. NO POS package has GST discrepencies like this unless a human is changing the settings. I’d be interested to know how many other Newsagents on this blog are growing at anywhere near 12% total annual store sales?


  • 17 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 15, 2018 at 10:16 AM


    Most are not getting these sales. We know that many are not embracing change evidenced by overall sales declines in the newsagency sector. But from just Adelaide I know of several who have similar or even better sales on a daily basis. It is open for discussion whether these shops are really newsagents, my own is in name only.


    It is insulting to many struggling owners to keep suggesting that any newsagent can be saved. There are plenty who been dealt bad landlords, failing districts, demographic upheavals and the latest and worst, council infliicted disruptions to traffic flow. Many have no choice but to get out of the industry all together. It is not always their failure. Wheelwrights, candlestick makers and video store owners were not bad businesses people, nor are many newsagents destined for ultimate failure.


  • 18 Mark Fletcher // Mar 15, 2018 at 2:57 PM

    Ken, my businesses are not run like yours were. Your businesses went broke with creditors owed over a million dollars. My offer was to show the actual data, which backs up my claim.

    Colin, any newsagency can be saved. I suspect I have access to more data from more businesses than you. I can’t see why you want to talk down the channel. In retail today, local is less of an issue. As for the landlord comment, anyone signing a lease needs to be prepared to honour the lease.

    Growth is there to be achieved. Yes, much of it is outside what is traditional for the channel. That is what is exciting, and profitable.

    Now, to both of you – there are newsagents looking for hope to encourage. Your carping to suit a narrative I don’t get is tiresome.


  • 19 Colin // Mar 15, 2018 at 10:12 PM


    We are aware you access to more data than us, we are also aware you keep the data to yourself and report as you see fit.

    Tiresome comes in many forms.


  • 20 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 4:03 AM

    Colin that is a silly comment. I invest all the work in collecting and analysing the data. I am generous in sharing the data and what it shows, and have been for many years.

    This thread has been sidetracked by couple from the good news it shares.


  • 21 Ken Wilson // Mar 16, 2018 at 5:59 AM

    Mark, most newsagencies cannot be saved. Your retail businesses have always been supported by your other successful business interests. Sophie Randell was a financial disaster but to your credit you were able to pay your suppliers over time because you had a good business.. Tower systems.
    Nearly every newsagency in a A grade shopping centre has gone broke… except yours, not because they are great businesses but I suspect you derive no income from them yourself ( your income will be coming from other sources), I suspect you would need to “top up” their cash flow also from your other businesses…, I get it, they are a marketing tool for you to sprout… but…they are not real businesses where you the owner are operating a single or multiple entity in its own right… not like all of the people you are preaching to. Even turning your shops into what they are today (a variant of What’s New), they also went broke. The only successful similar retailers in shopping centres that are successful are those who develop and import their own product and have a commencement margin of 70% and are taking close to 1 million dollars annually. You sprout about green shoots and the odd good sale but you need a bucket load of these sales every day to be financially viable in any location never mind being in a Westfield site. I have no doubt you can get some good sales but your suggestion that you operate a successful financially independant retail operation will not be the case…it is supported by your other successful business interests… the fact that newsagents are dropping off weekly and 80% of what’s left is in decline and that you suggest your businesses are flourishing on their own.. that’s misleading!


  • 22 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    Ken your statement, Your retail businesses have always been supported by your other successful business interests. is untrue. Had you taken up my offer to show you the data you would have seen the businesses are 100% self supporting.

    The Sophie Randall businesses are unrelated to this thread.

    People reading this thread need to know that you have an agenda – to pitch a narrative that suits your situation of owning a business that collapsed. The collapse of your business was on your and, in my opinion, your poor management decisions.

    That you hang around here to talk down the channel is pathetic.

    There are many successful and growing newsagencies out there.

    Thanks to online and other initiatives, any newsagent can grow their business.


  • 23 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 16, 2018 at 9:16 AM

    It’s a blog mark. People have views, you should show respect, engage and refrain from put downs.

    I trust your comment 4 was a silly comment. If not. I would like to know details of the function you refer to.


  • 24 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 9:21 AM

    Colin thanks for telling me what to do. You have expressed your view on my opinions here with plenty of put downs. I called your earlier comment silly as that is my opinion. What particular function are you asking about? If it is about GST, in the software you have the ability to sell to GST exempt customers. The software handles this in the way required by the ATO. The ATO has assessed the software during audits and passed each time. Tower is also part of an ATO small business POS software panel.


  • 25 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 16, 2018 at 9:44 AM

    Thx. I was unaware of the function and will certainly look it up.


  • 26 Steve // Mar 16, 2018 at 11:11 AM

    Customers that are GST exempt for the purchase of tea sets, glitter and carousels but not for slap bands, beanie babies and con purses, if you believe that you probably believe in unicorns.
    And why are they exempt and how does tower software determine that that customer standing at the counter is exempt?
    Sorry Mark you’ve jumped the shark.


  • 27 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 2:33 PM

    Steve, I did not say this customer was exempt. My comment was that the software, like any POS software, handles GST exempt purchases. My comment was not about the transaction in the screen cap. No shark to jump.


  • 28 Steve // Mar 16, 2018 at 3:23 PM

    Mark, of course all software handles GST exemptions for GST exempt goods and services like basic food, pharmaceuticals and the like. Unicorn tea sets dont fall into that category.
    There is no situation I know of where a retailer would be giving a particular customer a GST free sale on a GST inclusive product, any GST exempt customer would be paying the GST and then claiming it back through the tax office. Retailers may be tax collectors but we’re not auditors.
    Which brings us to the question of, if your comment about software and GST isn’t related to the GST anomaly on the receipt what is it’s point other than to muddy the waters around an obvious mistake? A mistake that lets face it is a tad embarrassing if you own both the store and the software company and you put it into the public realm.


  • 29 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 3:30 PM

    Steve as the thread shows, I answered a query about GST from another correspondent here.


  • 30 Dean // Mar 16, 2018 at 7:01 PM

    Steve, if a retailer is selling to an overseas customer then they would not charge GST at the point of sale


  • 31 Colin // Mar 16, 2018 at 9:26 PM


    My concern re comment 4 is that it suggests a sales operative has the ability to interfere with GST when dealing with customers. I find that notion worrying, That’s why I raised the issue.

    Your response indicated there is a function with Tower that allows sales operatives to use a function that can discriminate between customers on the application of GST and that function and therefore the sales voucher was genuine and compliant with ATO guidelines.

    I was going to follow on your response, but busy day, I never got round to it.

    I think for all Tower users, you need to offer assurance there is no function within Tower that enables sales operatives to operate outside GST rules.

    I don’t much care about sales voucher in question. But I do care if the system allows the same to happen in my store.


  • 32 Mark Fletcher // Mar 16, 2018 at 10:47 PM

    Colin, like any software, settings can be set such that rules are broken. However, such would need to be a deliberate act or a mistake, which would be picked up in a GST audit, which is also accessible through he software. The ATO lists items the are GST free and only a human can know this – hence the requirement that you tag an item as GST free or not.

    On this particular transaction covered in the receipt, the store manager has been on leave and I have left this issue for them to investigate as I am overseas. This investigation was done this afternoon, Friday. The receipt is wrong because some items in it were flagged in the stock file, incorrectly, as GST free. The items were new to the business the day before and received into the software the day before. The GST flag for the items has been corrected and remedial steps taken to ensure BAS reporting for the quarter is correct.


  • 33 Colin, Malvern SA // Mar 17, 2018 at 12:32 AM

    Reassuring… Thanks


  • 34 Steve // Mar 17, 2018 at 11:59 AM

    Dean it’s true exports are gst exempt if the retailer is exporting it, not if the customer is from overseas. If a tourist want to claim tax credits they pay it (unless its a duty free store) and then claim it from the tax office.

    Lets be serious no retailer is going to make a sale gst free just because the customer at the counter has a foreign passport.


  • 35 Ken Wilson // Mar 17, 2018 at 5:41 PM

    Oh.. so the young adult store manager changed the settingon a POS system on their own…. pull the other leg!
    For the record.. my only agenda is to put in perspective the claims made by people who operate successful businesses and use other businesses supported financially by that business for the purpose of saying “Look what i’m doing when its not a reasonable reflection of the market its being intended for”


  • 36 Mark Fletcher // Mar 17, 2018 at 11:25 PM

    Ken, I did not say the manager is responsible nor did I mention their age. Mistakes can be made with data What matters is how you deal with the.

    Your agenda is to talk the channel down, to fit your narrative for your newsagency business collapse that lost well one a million dollars of creditor money, newsagency creditor money.

    I have explained to you my businesses are stand alone and offered to show you the data. You prefer your ignorant delusion.


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