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Big Issue sales drop in Northampton since price rise of the magazine

Hard sell: Big Issue vendor Mark Franklin, who regularly sells outside of Marks and Spencers in the town centre,  says sales of the title have dropped since the price rise was introduced.

Hard sell: Big Issue vendor Mark Franklin, who regularly sells outside of Marks and Spencers in the town centre, says sales of the title have dropped since the price rise was introduced.

Big Issue sales have plummeted in Northampton since the price of the magazine was raised to £2.50, according 
to figures released by the Hope Centre.

The charity branch in Campbell Street acts as the collection point for the town’s vendors, from which it used to distribute 1,200 copies of the ‘street paper’ a week.

The publication is a vital income for numerous homeless people in Northampton, but the current weekly sales tally is now standing at an average of 780.

Manager of the Hope Centre, Catherine Maryon, said: “People are happy to hand over a pound or a pound fifty.

“But when you are talking three coins, maybe there is something psychological stopping people from buying it.”

The sales, Mrs Maryon said, have been gradually dropping off since the rise was introduced in 2012.

It used to cost £2, but increased by 50p in 2012 to coincide with a title relaunch, which gave it a more ‘confrontational look’, a glossier print finish and an editorial shift towards more political content.

Big Issue vendors, who effectively run a small business, now buy their copies for £1.25 each and keep the same amount in profit, compared to the previous figure of £1.

But one seller, Mark Franklin, 38, who regularly sells outside the Marks & Spencer store in Abington Street, said his income had gradually dropped since the price change.

“I used to sell quite a few,” he said. “Before lunchtime I would have got through quite a chunk of them.

“The thing is £2 is easier for people to find than £2.50.

“We do struggle to sell them now, we keep trying to say it should come down.”

Sales of the title are down five per cent year-on-year since the price hike. But commercial director of Big Issue, Mark Reid, said the organisation was left with no choice because of the decline in print sales across the industry.

He said: “We are affected in exactly the same way a newspaper or magazine is, in that many people are moving to the free digital environment.”

In response the magazine has launched a subscription service and an e-edition which can be viewed online. The funds generated will be distributed to the Big Issue’s regional street teams.

“Our view is that we would rather see a sale than not,” Mr Reid added. “But we would always prefer it if people bought directly from the vendor.”

 

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