The first edition of the Sun on Sunday took up where the News of the World left off, but retailers’ optimism over sales was tempered by concerns over low margins on the paper.
The Sun on Sunday sold out in many stores and recovered a number of News of the World customers who had switched to other Sunday titles following the red top’s closure last summer.
Jai Singh of Singh’s Premier in Sheffield said: “We completely sold out of the Sun on Sunday. Customers said they liked the sports coverage and supplements and would buy it again.”
Mike Blowing of Spar Great Kingshill, High Wycombe, was equally upbeat. “We sold all but two copies of it. I do think it will die down a little as it was just the first issue, but it filled the gap left by the News of the World. A lot of customers bought it as well as their regular Sunday paper, so we didn’t lose any sales overall.”
“It matched NoW sales, but the key is whether high sales will continue. About 20 customers changed from The Mirror/ People/ Star. News International sent us a large allocation, so loads of papers were sent back.”
Westhill Stores, Hastings, East Sussex
“Lots of customers knew about it, but probably more were talking about it than actually buying it. The paper didn’t do as well as I expected and we had to send almost half of them back.”
Weybridge News, Weybridge, Surrey
“We didn’t even receive a barcode for it so we weren’t able to scan it in properly through our system, and there was no circular from NI like normal.”
Spar Birley, Hackenthorpe
But Vip Panchmatia of Hexagon Stores, Andover, who despite selling out all 139 copies, was unimpressed by the margins, particularly as Saturday’s cover price was reduced to 50p. He said: “We returned 30 copies of the Mail on Sunday and 13 copies of the Express. I’d rather sell more of those papers which are more expensive. They should’ve given us better margins.”
Jon Ellis of Town Common News, Christchurch, Dorset, added: “The low price means we’re running to stand still - we have to do more with less. If I was just a red top news retailer I’d be concerned, but luckily lots of people buy the Sunday Mail and Sunday Express here.”
Jai said he was not worried about margins, and was more interested in the added footfall generated by the paper. “There’s no point in making 30% margin if you have to send most of the copies back. I’d rather make a smaller margin and sell more.”
News International was also accused of poor communication. “I had to call them myself to ask about the cover price,” Jon said.
A spokesman said there were no plans to change the cover price “at this stage”.