The Job and What's Involved

Newsagents manage or own shops and stores selling newspapers, magazines and usually a wide range of other goods. Some newsagents are part of a national chain of retail outlets, others sell newspapers and magazines alongside other items in their own shop.

Other goods often sold in newsagents include greetings cards, stationery, cigarettes, sweets, cold drinks, basic groceries and National Lottery tickets. Some newsagents also operate post offices within their shop or store, hire out videos and DVDs or have a photocopier for customers' use.

Their duties usually include:

  • Early morning checking of newspaper/magazine deliveries from wholesalers.
  • Organising home delivery routes and delivery teams.
  • Checking and removing out-of-date newspapers/magazines from shelves.
  • Organising stock checking and re-ordering as necessary, through computerised or manual systems.
  • Managing activities of staff.
  • Recruiting, interviewing and training staff when necessary.
  • Ensuring targets are met and opportunities taken to increase sales and profitability.
  • Ensuring all security, health and safety and legal procedures are carried out.
  • Maintaining a good standard of customer care.
  • Ensuring premises and displays are well maintained.
  • Being aware of changing customer trends and expectations.
  • Dealing with queries or complaints from customers.

They need to know how to use tills and any other equipment available, such as the National Lottery machine, a photocopier, a post office weighing and pricing machine. They must also be aware of strict laws concerning sales of certain products, e.g. cigarettes and lottery tickets should not be sold to people under 16. Newsagents often receive visits from sales representatives of companies wanting them to stock their products.

Newsagents normally start work around 6 am Monday to Sunday, so that they can receive daily newspaper/magazines and organise any home deliveries. Their shops usually close around 6 pm, or 7.30 pm if they sell National Lottery tickets. Some newsagents close on Sunday afternoons. The manager and staff work shifts to cover these hours. Some individual businesses are run by families, so working hours are flexible and sorted out on a day-to-day basis.

Work is indoors in a busy, often noisy, environment, and involves a lot of standing and, sometimes, bending and stretching when displaying goods or showing them to customers. Many shops and stores provide uniforms.

Starting salaries for newsagents are around £12,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 55,000 newsagents throughout the UK, including privately-owned shops and national chains. Newsagents are situated in town centres, villages, airports, motorway service areas and out-of-town shopping centres.

Independent newsagents have increasingly diversified their products and services to remain competitive, as supermarkets and petrol stations also sell a wide range of newspapers and magazines.

Most local newsagents handle their own staff recruitment, so it is worth contacting them direct to find out about job vacancies. Jobs may be advertised in local newspapers or on the websites of national chains. General retail job websites may also sometimes advertise jobs in newsagents.

Education and Training

There are no set academic requirements to become a newsagent, although, as the job involves a lot of paperwork and number work, GCSEs/S (A-C/1-3) in maths and English are useful, as is experience of working with customers, particularly in retail. Many newsagents run their own business or are self-employed.

Useful general retail qualifications include:

  • BTEC national awards in retail.
  • OCR (Oxford, Cambridge & RSA Examinations) Certificate in Retail.
  • City & Guilds Certificate in Retailing.
  • EDI (Education Development Institute) Certificate in Retailing Operations.
  • BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC)/Higher National Diploma (HND) in Retail Management.
  • Foundation and honours degrees in retail management.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Most training for newsagents is on the job, but national newsagent chains may have their own training schemes, run at training centres.

It may be possible to work part time towards retail qualifications such as:

  • NVQ's/SVQ's in Retail Operations at Levels 2 and 3.
  • BTEC national and higher national awards.
  • City & Guilds Higher Professional Diploma in Retail Management Level 4.

Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, and the British Shops and Stores Association can provide information on training and development opportunities for people working in retail.

The trade association, National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) offers a membership scheme for newsagents. Benefits include legal advice, training items and events.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A newsagent should:

  • Have a good knowledge of products and sales procedures.
  • Be friendly, helpful, polite and hardworking.
  • Be able to lead and motivate other members of staff.
  • Have good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Be organised, able to take responsibility and make decisions.
  • Be able to stay calm and cheerful during busy periods.
  • Be able to deal effectively with problems and complaints.
  • Have a clear knowledge of legal and security issues.
  • Have relevant business skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Newsagents working for national chains may have promotion opportunities to move to a larger shop or into area or head office management. Moving to a different location may sometimes be necessary to obtain promotion.

Progress for independent, self-employed newsagents depends on their ability to continue offering their customers good service and a useful range of products. If their profits increase, some newsagents are able to expand their shops or open additional ones in their local area.

Experience gained as a newsagent can be valuable for people moving to another area of retail work.

Get Further Information

British Independent Retailers Association, 225 Bristol Road, Edgbaston,
Birmingham B5 7UB

National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN),
Yeoman House, Sekforde Street,
London EC1R 0HF
Tel: 020 7253 4225

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