Italian News Kiosks Face Decline Amid Falling Sales

**Italy’s Iconic News Kiosks Shutter as Newspaper Sales Plummet**

ROME – The once bustling news kiosks that have dotted the Italian landscape for generations are facing an existential crisis as the country witnesses a dramatic slump in newspaper sales. Fabiano Pompei and Marco Volpini, whose families have been in the business since 1948 and for a century respectively, have recently joined the ranks of kiosk owners who have had to close shop.

Pompei’s kiosk, near the St. John Lateran Basilica, and Volpini’s by the Trevi Fountains, were landmarks in their communities. However, the changing times have not been kind to these small businesses. “You can make sacrifices up to a certain point, but if you’re earning little or even losing money, it is better to close and do something else, even if it hurts inside,” Pompei told Reuters.

The industry body Snag has estimated that two-thirds of Italy’s news kiosks have closed over the past two decades, leaving only about 12,000 in operation. The Italian Chamber of Commerce reported a 16% drop nationwide in the last four years alone, with Rome experiencing a 21% fall.

The heart of the issue lies in the decline of newspaper sales. Data from ADS shows that daily sales have plummeted from around 9.54 million in 2004 to approximately 950,000 by January 2024. Alessio Cornia, assistant professor at Dublin City University specialized in journalism, noted that the decline is stable and long-term.

Kiosk owners like Stefano di Persio have tried to adapt by selling souvenirs to tourists, as traditional customers are replaced by visitors. “If we had to rely on newspaper sales, we would have closed long ago,” he said.

The government has introduced incentives of up to 2,000 euros to help kiosks stay afloat, but owners argue that this is a short-term solution to a long-term trend. Some kiosks have even resorted to becoming automated distribution machines to cut costs.

Local communities mourn the loss of these cultural staples, which served as hubs for social interaction and community bonding. Pompei, who attempted to transform his kiosk into a bookstore, reflects on the emotional toll of closing: “Every night I dream about my kiosk because it is in my heart … but I couldn’t carry on.”

As Italy grapples with the digital transformation of news consumption, the future of its iconic news kiosks remains uncertain, marking the end of an era for many Italians.

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