What’s being done to save Spain’s struggling news kiosks?

newsstand
News kiosks in Spain are struggling to survive. Photo: CLAUDIO CRUZ / AFP
Spain’s street 'quioscos' have been the place where locals go to get their daily news fix for decades, but recently they've been struggling to survive.

In the last decade, more than 6,000 kiosks have been forced to close throughout Spain, according to the latest Report on the Periodical Publications Industry by the University of Santiago de Compostela and the University of Coruña.

“We are surviving thanks to the products which are not newspapers, press and magazines. It is down to everything else we sell bags, backpacks and even technology products, that we have managed to survive so far. A decade ago the press was 95 percent of what we sold, now it is 50 percent ”,Teresa Araujo, president of the Madrid Press Sellers Association (AVPPM) told El Independiente.

With a drop in sales of more than 45 percent, kiosks have been forced to reinvent themselves, meaning that printed press now comes below other items in terms of sales. Kiosks are now allowed to sell food and drink, a measure which has been introduced to alleviate the drop in sales.

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The pandemic and the home confinement period was the last straw for many of these news kiosks, who even though were able to stay open during that time, were not able to survive without their regular customers and those who stopped by on their way to work.

“It has affected us a lot, a lot of colleagues have closed their businesses and those of us who continue, survive as best we can with losses that amounted to 70-80 percent,explained Araujo.  

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The association has already warned the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, that since the pandemic, older people, the majority who buy written press, have reduced their outings and contact with other people.

Today it is estimated that on average a newsstand sells only 15 to 20 copies of a newspaper or magazine, a major difference from a decade ago.

What’s being done to save them?

Home delivery

With the arrival of Covid-19 and without people able to buy press in person, the kiosks saw home delivery as a way to remedy part of the losses. Newsstands say that thanks to this action a large number of establishments have survived, but that it is still insufficient.

New products 

For more than a decade, newsstands in the capital, Madrid have demanded that governments allow them to increase the variety of products with little success, until recently.  

“The new ordinance was what we had been asking for for years,” says Araujo.

These measures now allow the sale of tickets for cultural activities and shows, transport tickets and memory cards, as well as batteries and telephone cards. 

Reinvention

Many more kiosks have been looking for ways to diversify their offerings. In Barcelona, one kiosk has reinvented itself as the hip place to grab a coffee on the go.

News & Coffee near the citys Arc de Triomf now sells specialty coffees and a range of independent art, literary and photography magazines, as well as the standard newspapers, and has already made quite a name for itself since it opened in 2019.

Other Barcelona news kiosks have begun to sell items of seasonal clothing, such as dresses in summer and scarves and gloves in winter.

Reduction of fees

In Madrid, the City Council has been reducing fees for newsstands to help them survive, which include discounted rates on the occupation of public roads and the possibility of acquiring a grant of 25 percent of the IBI (impuesto sobre bienes inmuebles), yearly property tax bill.


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