Grabbing a newspaper and coffee to go is an American tradition.
But it is eroding as more publications favor online-only and coffee shops and retail outlets stop assigning space for newspapers.
Neiman Lab reports that Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket chain by revenue, will stop carrying free newspapers and magazines as of October 15 — after 20 years.
A Kroger rep told the Memphis Business Journal: “We are removing the publication racks from our stores because more publications continue to shift to digital formats, resulting in less customers using the products.”
The association of Alternative News Media kicked off a campaign in September to convince Kroger to keep free alt-weeklies in the store — to no avail.
There is not only a community impact, there are economic ones.
Since the internet and social began amazing billions in classified ads, newspapers and their staffers have felt the pain of lost revenue. Or as the MinnPost put it in 2014: “How Craigslist Killed the Newspapers’ Golden Goose.”
In Cincinnati, home to the Kroger Company, about 8,400 people a week got their local free newspaper, CityBeat, at the grocery chain. That's also true for Nashville and Memphis. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, 4,000 a week do. The Wichita Eagle in Kansas reported that 12,000 a month pick up a free publication at the area Kroger stores.
One caveat: Kroger will still sell daily newspapers, including The New York Times and TheWall Street Journal. In Lansing, Michigan, for example, metro dailies, including The Lansing State Journal and The Detroit Free Press, are for sale. That irks some publishers that feel the grocery chain is favoring big corporations over small independent businesses.
And it isn’t just Kroger putting the kibosh on print access.
Aldi's, the fifth-largest grocery chain in the U.K., which operates in 17 other countries, including the U.S. — stopped selling newspapers or magazines in England Sept. 30.
Starbucks stopped selling print newspapers at its 8,600 American outlets last month. (It has offered free digital to a handful of newspapers for a limited time.)
On a smaller scale, Harvard Square’s 64-year-old newsstand Out of Town News, located in front of the Harvard Square T-stop, will officially close its doors at the end of October. Its specialty was selling newspapers from around the world to students and residents.
As Politico noted, newspapers were in their economic heyday when the retailers that benefited most from their ads — department stores — thrived. New competition, such as the Facebook/Google duopoly, radically changed the equation.