Retailers have expressed concerns that a giveaway promotion of The Sun in Spar stores “devalues the product” in their shops.
betterRetailing understands that at least three Spar retailers have been running the News UK promotion, which offers a free copy of the daily newspaper to customers who spend more than £5 in store.
However, Mike Mitchelson, owner of Mitchelson News in Brampton, Cumbria, said he had seen the newspaper being given away regardless of what customers spend.
“My personal experience, and what I have been told by others, is that Spar customers are receiving a free copy of The Sun whether they buy a loaf of bread or do a full shop,” the former NFRN national president said.
“It has been going on for several weeks now. There is a Spar directly across the road from my store running the promotion and another nearby, both of which are competitors of mine.
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“As a result, the promotion is hitting the sales of not only The Sun, but also some other titles in my store.”
James Wilkinson, of Pybus Newsagents in Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, told betterRetailing the promotion was also devaluing the newspaper and costing him sales.
“The local Spar has done this before, and I tried to get them to stop, but I can never get a proper answer from anyone about where it originated,” he said.
“Customers are supposed to spend £5 in store to get a free copy of The Sun, but it seems like they are giving copies away to anyone who walks through the door.
“We are based 200 yards away and we sell 68 HND copies of The Sun a day, but we have lost about 20 sales in store because of it.
“It totally devalues the product and we are now holding off on the News UK HND promotion because we are having our sales decimated by this free giveaway.”
He added: “Why should I get up at 4am each morning if this is how I am going to be treated by the publisher?”
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Mitchelson argued that News UK should consider the impact of the promotion on the retailers who support them.
“Someone must be subsidising it, and it could be News UK looking to bump up their ABC figures,” he said.
“But has News UK thought about the impact of retailers doing HND and providing a service selling their newspapers 364 days a year?”
News UK head of retail marketing Chris Hughes told betterRetailing: “We run promotional activities in stores from time to time, but we are committed to working with all our retailer partners to grow sales of The Sun.
“This promotional deal is money off a wider shop and not a free newspaper.”
All three retailers said to be partaking in the promotion refused to comment when approached by betterRetailing.
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