Paper rounds dying out as children 'too lazy'
The days of the paper round, once a rite of passage into work for thousands of young people, appear to be numbered as pocket money increases mean they are too rich and lazy to get out of bed.
Newsagents across the country, once inundated with schoolchildren keen to supplement their weekly income, are now being forced to cut back on deliveries because they cannot recruit enough paper boys and girls.
According to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), which represents thousands of shops, generous increases in pocket money are deterring new recruits.
At the same time the study showed 19 per cent of working seven to 16-year-olds
had paper rounds in 2007, compared with 35 per cent in 2004.
Stefan Wojciechowski, the association's head of news and magazines, said: "Kids
don't want to do paper rounds anymore because of increasing pocket money.
"The amount some of them receive each week has risen more than four-fold
so there is no longer the incentive to get up at the crack of dawn and
sludge through rain, sleet and snow.
"Many of them are now waiting until they are 16 before they start
earning because they can get the funding from their parents without having
to do much at all.
"It's a shame because not only is a paper round good for exercise, it is
a very good way of bridging the gap between school and work.
"Youngsters get a sense of a good work ethic which stands them in good
stead for the future but it's no good if they are just getting pocket money
With its early morning starts in all weathers, back breaking bags and risk of
dog attacks, the paper round has long been seen as a character building
introduction to work for many youngsters.
But the lack of children prepared to take on the job, as well as competition
from supermarkets is meaning that many rounds are being phased out.
Estimates by the NFRN show that up to a third of all independent paper shops
have given up home delivery in the past five to seven years.
Of the 14,000 delivering newsagents in Scotland, England and Wales, only 7,000
are actively seeking new business.
The other 7,000 are contemplating getting out of the home delivery business
which pays youngsters about £15-a-week.
The disappearance of afternoon newspapers, whose delivery times worked better
for school-aged children, was another reason behind the decline.
Joe Kelly of Direct News, in Garston, south Liverpool, realised 18 months ago
that morning newspaper deliveries would have to stop.
He said: "We just couldn't get the paperboys. We used to have a book full
"We used to do 10 paperboys but it was gradually dropping off. Basically,
they seem to have got too much cash. The majority seem to have unlimited
funds from mum and dad.
"Some of the elderly people we deliver to, they form a relationship with
"On a couple of occasions the paperboy has come back and said there's a
problem at this house. It is a lifeline for some."