Newsagency businesses are struggling as traditional product sales decline

Richmond Marketplace Newsagency. Picture: Geoff Jones
Richmond Marketplace Newsagency. Picture: Geoff Jones

SALES of traditional newsagency products including newspapers, magazines, stationery and greeting cards are all in decline, and Hawkesbury newsagents are feeling the pinch.

While the stores of yesteryear were shrines to print, many newsagencies these days are being forced to sell much more than just news to get people through the door. 

Gift products like hand creams and novelties, along with electronic gift cards and mobile phone data packs are all helping newsagents make up for some of these losses.

Indeed, a study by newsagency software company Tower Systems found gift revenue was up 13 per cent, toy sales were up 12 per cent and plush (or luxury) products rose 14 per cent across 173 Australian newsagencies during the July-September 2017 quarter.

At the same time, magazine unit sales were down 13.5 per cent, newspapers 12 per cent, stationery 11 per cent, and greeting cards 4 per cent compared to the previous corresponding period. 

In the Hawkesbury, two newsagencies have closed down in recent years, and locals have felt the sting. Kurrajong shut its doors in 2015 after being owned by the one family for a decade, and Richmond Newsagency closed last year after nearly a century of news sales at the same Windsor Street site.

There are now only a little over a handful left in the district. And of these, many are diversifying.

Like in any other industry, businesses that fail to embrace market changes could be taking a huge risk.

  • See next week’s Hawkesbury Gazette (Wednesday, March 28) for the full feature, including interviews with local newsagents about how the industry has changed, who still visits newsagencies in the Hawkesbury these days, and predictions for the future of their businesses.