Retail associations are assessing their next move following the OFT’s decision not to review the newspaper and magazine distribution sector.

Last week’s decision was a bitter blow to retailers who have fought for a review for two years. It was strongly criticised by the ACS, which said it was now considering its options. “By not taking action they are propping up a wasteful monopoly supply chain that continues to fail consumers,” said CEO James Lowman.

The NFRN also condemned the decision, which the OFT sought to justify by claiming in-store availability had improved, the number of retailers had remained stable and there had been steps towards self-regulation.

“Once again, the OFT has let down small businesses in favour of the big boys,” said national president Kieran McDonnell. “After keeping us waiting for nearly three months, all it has done is reiterate its 2009 decision.”

Both the ACS and the NRFN questioned the OFT’s claim that the number of retailers selling newspapers and magazines had remained stable in the two-and-a-half years since its last investigation. The NFRN said that in the past five years, 11.5% of indies had been forced out of business or given up selling newspapers and magazines, while the ACS said that since 2000, on average eight c-stores had closed every week.

The NFRN also vowed to snub a round table meeting organised by the Press Distribution Forum in Scotland next month. The PDF was set up in 2010 in response to the OFT’s call for the industry to self-regulate.

The PDF called on the retail associations to join forces with it. “The PDF is working to enhance the efficiency of the supply chain. I would urge retailers and retailer associations to join in the consultation process,” said PDF chairman Mike Newman.