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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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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A newsagent should:
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.
British Shops and Stores Association Limited (BSSA),
Middleton House, 2 Main Road, Middleton Cheney,
Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 2TN
Tel: 01295 712277
National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN),
Yeoman House, Sekforde Street,
London EC1R 0HF
Tel: 020 7253 4225
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.