Australian Newsagency Blog

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

The steep decline in magazine browsing impacts newsagency foot traffic

Mark Fletcher
November 21st, 2018 · 1 Comment

For many years, newsagents would complain about shoppers who stood and sat in the magazine aisles reading magazines. We are not a library posters were common as were requests for shoppers to buy a magazine or leave. back in those days, it was common for newsagents to have 1,200+ titles in their range.

Today, there are plenty of retailers in our channel who would welcome readers, wanting to have someone, anyone, in the shop rather than no one. While I found some browsers years ago frustrating, never did I put up the library sign, never did I ask people to leave.

Magazine browsing has declined significantly. Typically, on a Saturday afternoon ten years ago we would have at least ten people at a time browsing magazines, reading articles, comparing recipes and generally immersing themselves in the medium. Today, we rarely have a browser on a Saturday.

Magazine shoppers today more often choose their title and purchase. There spend less time considering other titles, less time immersed in the medium in-store.

This shift, this significant shift, is reflective of the change in how, where and when people consume content that was, ten or so years ago, primarily available in magazines.

The newsagents who wanted to stop browsers have got their wish. And, I wonder how they feel about it.

I would love to have access to data on browsing numbers today compared to ten years ago, from a good cross-section of newsagency businesses and by day of week. Real data, not anecdotal, hard evidence. I think it would bring into focus the impact not only of disruption to print but also the disruption to our old channel brought on by convenience and other outlets also offering access to print product.

The knock-on effect for us of the decline is browsing is the loss of the opportunity to convert the magazine browser into a purchaser of some other products.

Thinking back to the usual Saturday, there are, I am sure, people who don’t visit a newsagency at all today because they no longer browse magazines. This is a traffic challenge our channel has to confront.

While we focus on declining magazine sales, there is this decline in browsing that is a big issue in my view as many retailers have not offered a browsing / lingering alternative.

11 likes

Category: magazines · Media disruption · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Nov 21, 2018 at 11:22 PM

    Have not been around for 10 years but can verify to dramatic decrease in browsers over last, 5. Does it matter? I doubt it. The remaining magazine customers are more focused, the tyre kickers have departed.

    Can anything be done?

    The customer has almost become irrelevant to the commercial backdrops .

    The newsagent reduces pockets in seeking more profit per metre so choice diminishes. The publisher closes niche titles or goes on line to eek out cost savings, so choice dimishes. The distributors focus on convenient outlets for main titles, so choice diminishes.

    It is an industry where the 3 sectors to the chain (retailer, distributor and publisher) are each facilitating dimishing choice and thereby reducing sales.

    It will take better brains than the current self serving participants to reverse the inevitable conclusion of the above.

    5 likes

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