Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Newsagency sales benchmark study results beg the question: what is a newsagency?

Mark Fletcher
February 4th, 2019 · 5 Comments

Core newsagency categories continue to decline while most ‘new’ categories achieve growth. More new categories are emerging too, in more businesses. This is why I ask the question what is a newsagency?

In the data for the Oct-Dec 2018 quarter compared to the 2017 quarter for 149 newsagency businesses I can see more businesses with a sustained gift department than ever before. The same is true for toys. Books, coffee and services are emerging, too.

Whereas in the past I’d see evidence of small engagement in some of these, now I am more likely to see a separate strong department delivering between 5% and 10% of non-agency revenue to the business, seeing the percentage contribution from traditional fall further.

I don’t think it matters at this point that a business identifying as a newsagency strays far from what that type of business once was. More so than the shingle or the self-identified type is products sold. For example, a business with lotteries is, in my view, more identified for that than anything else they sell.

At some point, however, business owners willneed to make a decision about identity.
For the purposes of these studies, I’ll continue to look at this as a newsagency channel, even though there are fewer products unifying the businesses in the channel than ever before.

Here is what I see in the latest benchmark data. Note: Each data point is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.

OVERALL BUSINESS PERFORMANCE METRICS.

  • Customer traffic. Down 1%.
  • Overall sales. Down .5%.
  • Basket depth.Flat.
  • Basket dollar value.Flat.

CORE PRODUCTS.

  • Newspapers. Unit sales. Down 9.5%.
  • Magazines. Unit sales. Down 11%.
  • Greeting cards. Revenue. Up 2%.
  • Stationery. Revenue. Down 11%
  • Lotteries. Revenue. Flat.
  • Tobacco. Revenue. Down 14%.
  • Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 7%.

SPECIALTY PRODUCTS.

  • Gifts. Revenue. Up 4%.
  • Toys. Revenue. Up 3%.
  • Plush. Revenue. Up 4%.
  • Collectibles. Revenue. Up 3%.
  • Craft. Revenue. Up 2%.
  • Coffee. Revenue. Up 13%.
  • Books. Revenue. Up 7%.
  • Calendars. Revenue. Up 9%.

Magazines.
A big hit this quarter is in partworks results with revenue declines of 50% and more. That is to be expected given business problems with partworks in Australia. Weekly magazines lead the core category decline with many reporting 10% and more year on year decline in unit sales. This sits are the heart of magazine challenges in newsagencies.

Christmas.
The channel had a good Christmas overall. Christmas card unit sales were up 2% year on year on average while revenue was up 4% for the same period. Christmas boxed card sales were up 5%. Those who track seasonal gifts separately recorded 10% or more growth.
The results I have seen indicate a better Christmas than data published in news outlets a few weeks ago.

What does this mean?
It was a tough quarter for core categories but a good quarter for non-core.

There are businesses in the study that achieved double digit growth and others with double digit declines across the board.

The decline in traffic the core of papers, magazines, stationery and tobacco is not being replaced with sufficient new traffic. This matter needs urgent attention. Otherwise, we will see hundreds of more closures in 2019.

From what I can see, the newsagents doing best are those in control of their businesses. That is, those who do not rely on reps to order for them and those who do not rely on legacy newsagency channel suppliers.

The occupancy cost challenge continues.
Even in the best run newsagencies, the annual 5% increased in occupancy cost is not sustainable. In today’s market, I think 2% annual increases is fairer as that at least provides retailers an opportunity to keep up.

Landlords need to be aware of the changes in product mix, the challenges of low-margin core products and restrictions they place on what businesses can sell. They need to be flexible on rent so newsagency businesses can be sustained and thereby provide the service they want in their centre.

Looking at data for one store.
To address the point some make, usually people who have failed as newsagency business owners, here are some results for one business. Traffic: down 1%. Revenue: up 5%. Magazines: down 20%. Papers: down 19%. Cards: up 25% (33% of total revenue). Calendars: up 19%. Gifts: up 34% (11% of total revenue). Toys: up 61% (6% of revenue). Average sale value: $14.61, up 9%. Overall business GP 46%. This store is not alone with good numbers.

Mark Fletcher.
Email: mark@towersystems.com.au  Website: www.towersystems.com.au  Blog: www.newsagencyblog.com.au
M | 0418 321 338

10 likes

Category: Newsagency benchmark · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Colin // Feb 4, 2019 at 8:44 AM

    Mark,

    I see you are having to dig deep to make sense of the numbers. Box cards up 5% will surely prove to be an anomaly next year, are they really track able from the results submitted?

    Most disappointing is basket depth and value. If papers keep declining at such a rate then basket value should increase. The fact they are not shows the uphill task faced. It suggests too many operators are focussing on cheap offerings as a replacement to traditional lines. Life will not be easy for outlets that drift towards the discounters who have the fire power to see them off.

    0 likes

  • 2 Mark Fletcher // Feb 4, 2019 at 8:46 AM

    There are not enough in the channel playing above the average.

    0 likes

  • 3 Steve Bloom // Feb 5, 2019 at 6:32 PM

    “Looking at data for one store.”

    Are you able to provide some information about this store?

    What state is it in?
    Metro or Country? If country how big a town?
    Shopping centre or High Street?
    Does it belong to a marketing group? Is so which one?

    2 likes

  • 4 Colin // Jun 26, 2019 at 10:12 AM

    Mark,

    Was there a Jan to March 2019 benchmark study. Cannot find one the categories you normally tag.

    0 likes

  • 5 Mark Fletcher // Jun 27, 2019 at 5:11 AM

    Sorry Colin I am behind schedule.

    0 likes

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