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In last Sunday’s Observer, readers’ editor Stephen Pritchard wrote a column stating retailers seem to have little interest in selling newspapers.
He told two stories to make this point. First, a recent experience at the London Waterloo Station branch of WH Smith, which had no Observers on sale at 10.15am. Most of the store’s 250 copies were in bundles downstairs, with the sales assistant unable to leave the shop floor to collect them. He was told the store had sold only four copies that morning. Secondly, a messy supermarket display he witnessed, with copies piled up and impossible to find. He resorted to tidying the display himself so customers could find what they were looking for. Both stores had lost many sales, he says. He concluded with a plea to the public to get newspaper sellers to up their game and match the hard work that goes into producing and distributing titles. It is fair to say that Mr Pritchard would be unlikely to encounter this level of incompetence in his local independent newsagent, where every paper received is on the shelf at the earliest opportunity to give it the best chance of being sold. But while RN readers are doing their damnedest to get the news out to the public, how many times is the bad practice witnessed by Mr Pritchard replicated across the multiple estate? Many RN readers suspect that papers are piled into multiple groups, with newsagents frequently finding supplies cut back. Independent retailers sell newspapers with passion and energy. To the multiples, the category is just another commodity. Why should the retailers with this attitude to the newstrade get preferential treatment? ——————————————————————————————