The retailer's margin of 24.2% means that stores will take just 4.84p per copy, down from 8.47p when the cover price was 35p a year ago and the publisher has suggested a further cut to just 10p will follow next month.
The move takes value out of the news category and makes handling the Star unprofitable, traders say. Steve Denham of Cherilyn Stores in West Sussex said his message for the publisher, Northern and Shell, was: "I can't find space for your paper any more as I have to make a profit on my activity and can't get to breakeven on 4.84p a copy."
East Anglian newsagent Brian Webb is encouraging others to join him in removing the Star from sale. "Every newsagent should take immediate action against this title, because if everyone stands still the other publishers will follow this lead," he said. "Many have downloaded the poster we produced to display in their shops saying they no longer carry the Star, and asking customers to buy an alternative newspaper that pays us, too."
The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), which is prevented by law from calling for collective action, suggested members might make their own protest. Sam Whiteside of the NFRN Newstrade Operations Committee said: "Our members are now aware that the printed price on a newspaper is a recommended price and retailers are entirely free to set their own selling price. Publishers who fail to maintain pro rata terms should take note retailers' patience with your abusive margin control is running short."
Scottish NFRN president Abdul Qadar added: "Newsagents may well decide to investigate how the space devoted to this product might be given to something that offers a better profit."