Starting from August, four print newspapers will not be available in retail as wholesaler Lehepunkt has decided to end Monday deliveries following economic reasons. The change does not concern subscribers.
Starting this upcoming Monday, it will be impossible to buy daily newspapers Õhtuleht, Eesti Päevaleht, Postimees and Lõuna-Eesti Postimees on the first day of the week as these are the only newspapers published on Monday.
Lehepunkt gave the market situation and sky-high fuel prices as the reason. The company's portfolio has shrunk by a third as periodicals from Russia can no longer be marketed in Estonia and following changes in sales dynamics.
"Considering labor costs, fuel prices and environmental effects today, Monday deliveries are simply not sustainable anymore. The decision was not an easy one to make, while we needed to find the solution with the smallest impact on readers," said Kristo Heinmaa, executive manager of Lehepunkt, owned by Norwegian company Reitan Convenience AS.
The company said that print newspaper sales are lowest on Mondays. While the difference in sales volume compared to other days of the week can be many times, the company's delivery vehicles still have to drive 5,000 kilometers every night.
"Giving up Monday deliveries allows us to ensure quality service on other days, that fresh print editions will reach sales locations all over Estonia five days a week," Heinmaa said.
The executive manager of Lehepunkt added that the decision does not affect subscribers of the four papers, only their retail availability.
Heinmaa pointed out that newspapers reach stores four times a week in Latvia and Lithuania. In Sweden, Norway and Denmark, wholesale of periodicals is handled by various service providers that ensure deliveries on different days and routes.
Ekspress to continue publishing Mondays
Of the papers Ekspress Grupp publishes, the decision to cancel Monday retail deliveries of print newspapers will mainly impact the evening daily Õhtuleht, as Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) is more focused on subscribers, CEO Mari-Liis Rüütsalu said.
"Without a doubt, print media as a whole has been under pressure in recent years," she acknowledged. "This is still bad news for us as well as for consumers. It's not going to make anything easier — rather, it will make things more difficult."
According to the CEO, digital channels currently account for 78 percent of the group's revenue, thanks to which losing Mondays won't have as much of an impact on the group's overall results.
"It does, however, put Õhtuleht in in a difficult position during already uncertain times," she continued. "We'll just have to find ways to get by with lower costs."
The recent decision won't impact home deliveries, as delivery requirements are regulated by law, and any changes to mail delivery days in Estonia would require a legal amendment.
Rüütsalu believes that the discontinuing of individual retail sales of print newspapers one day a week won't have a significant enough impact to justify a paper stopping publishing to its subscribers as well.
"Historically speaking, Estonia has rather been a country of subscribers, and especially in terms of papers in the Õhtuleht format, while such papers have historically been moreso individual sales papers in Scandinavia, Estonians have been diligent readers and diligent subscribers throughout the years," she said.
The CEO doesn't consider it feasible right now to find an alternative provider for Monday deliveries of its papers alone, as there is too much work involved for just one day a week.
She declined to reveal, however, to what extent exactly Õhtuleht would be impacted by the loss of Monday individual sales.
"Let's just say that it will be enough of an impact on Õhtuleht that some topics will have to be reassessed and we'll have to consider where we can save on money in that amount," Rüütsalu said.
Founded in 2000, Lehepunkt OÜ supplies supermarkets, grocery stores, kiosks and gas stations across Estonia with newspapers and magazines each morning.
The company offers around 800 different periodicals, including 300 Estonian and 500 foreign publications, as well as transport and packaging services.
Estonia has around 1,400 periodicals sales locations.
Editor: Marcus Turovski, Aili Vahtla