We are grateful to all the newsagents who shares their sales data for inclusion in this important benchmark study.
Growth opportunities on show in 2019 vs. 2018 full year newsagency sales benchmark study results.
Newsagency businesses in the benchmark study data pool focussed on new traffic generators fared well in 2019 compared to the performance of traditional newsagency businesses. 4 of the 5 traditional categories experienced year on year declines while all of the new product categories delivered growth.
Newsagencies focussed on change through new product categories are the future of the channel. New product categories usually offer a significantly better margin, better sell-through rate and better basket efficiency compared to traditional newsagency lines.
New product categories will evolve, too. What is strong today will be challenged by another category tomorrow. Change, substantial change is the new normal in retail.
This newsagency sales benchmark study represents a comparison of sales data from 161 newsagency businesses for the 2018 and 2019 calendar years. These businesses are representative: city and country, high street and mall, banner groups and independent. The only thing connecting the businesses is that they use the Tower newsagency software. Note: Each data point below is the average, mean, of all data for the data point.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE METRICS.
- Transaction count. Down 3.5%.
- Sales revenue. Down 5%.
- Basket depth. Down 3%.
- Basket dollar value. Down 3%.
- Newspapers. Over the counter unit sales. Down 10.5%.
- Magazines. Over the counter unit sales. Down 12.5%.
- Greeting cards. Revenue. Down 3.5%.
- Stationery. Revenue. Down 9%.
- Lotteries. Revenue. Up 23%.
- Tobacco. Revenue. Down 19%.
- Agency. Parcels, gift cards, betting account top-up. Down 4%.
- Gifts. Revenue. Up 11%.
- Toys. Revenue. Up 7%. Includes puzzles.
- Plush. Revenue. Up 6%.
- Collectibles. Revenue. Up 5%.
- Craft. Revenue. Up 3%.
- Coffee. Revenue. Up 17%.
- Books. Revenue. Up 6%.
- Calendars. Revenue. Up 6%.
Despite there being plenty of bad news at the department and category level, this latest study reveals plenty of good news. It encourages confidence around pursuing change, embracing new product categories and leveraging these to help redefine the focus of the business.
While the newsagency shingle remains for many businesses in our channel, movement away from what that shingle has stood for is key to the future.
Print media is a problem.
With margins slim – 25% for magazines and around 12% for papers for many – the impact of the continuing decline in sales is significant. The only to make papers and magazines work is to reduce costs associated switch carrying these products – retail space and labour. Changes here can encourage further decline. This is why more newsagents are wondering when they might quit print.
Unless there is a change to margin percentage and an improvement in magazine cover prices, I suspect more in newsagents will exit print, unfortunately.
The growth categories.
Looking at the product categories for which there was growth – gifts, toys, plush, collectibles, craft, coffee – less than half the businesses in the dataset offered more than two of these. Even with the easy category of gift, more than a 25% of those reporting do not offer gifts, which shocks me.
City vs. Country.
Regional and rural businesses continue to perform better. This is across the board. It has always been thus. I think this is due in part to a lower retail space cost, stronger local shopper support and less competition.
Toys, crafts, coffee, gifts, books and plush offer upside, as has been the case for several years. The best success comes from dealing with suppliers who do not usually supply the newsagency channel. That said, what each of these category labels mean varies significantly between businesses.
The role of online.
While there has been growth in the contribution of online, in an average business it accounts for less than 4% of non lottery revenue. There are some achieving more than 10% but they are small in number. Too many newsagents and missing out on the online opportunity.
Is a newsagency a good investment?
My answer to this question continues to be yes. There is traffic value remaining in core products and opportunity to leverage this in other product categories.
The success of any newsagency business is more reliant on the retailer than on the channel itself. A poor retailer will run a poor newsagency. A good retailer will run a more successful newsagency.
New traffic, better margin, genuine growth in business valuations all come from focussing on products not recently traditionally aligned with our channel.
I own three newsagencies. I am glad I do. I am pleased with their performance.