... while some shopkeepers draw a blank

Jonathan Foster talks to traders who have failed to strike it lucky
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The Independent Online
Small shops in South Yorkshire have commonly been ear- ning an extra pounds 300 a week from sales of tickets, but resentment is rife among those excluded from Camelot, the organiser of the lottery.

Shopkeepers hoping to transform their businesses with the lottery claim that it has only been a boost for the busiest.

Sheffield 5 merited a ration of three outlets, all of which have been located within a 100-yard walk around Firth Park suburban shopping centre. The compulsive gambler cannot find another ticket for sale within a mile but, across the city in Sheffield 2, three shops in close proximity vie for the trade.

Newsagents outside Cam- elot's pale feel harshly treated. Yasin Ansar's newsagents is within 800 yards of Firth Park, but he couldn't get a machine. "They say they did not have enough machines at first," Mr Ansar said.

"But at Firth Park all the machines have gone to big chains, Somerfield, Thresher and GT News who do big business with Camelot because it is run by Cadbury."

Mr Ansar sells about five packs of Instant scratch cards, making 5p profit on each pounds 1 card. "But other sales are down because people buy papers, cigarettes and magazines where they can buy lottery tickets."

Rodney Marshall's shop, a mile away, is near bus stops on a busy road. A large housing estate stands across the road but Mr Marshall claims Camelot has not provided a plausible explanation of why he cannot sell the chance of a jackpot. Mr Marshall said: "We turn loads of people away. We may fall outside their idea of what makes a good area but we're open from six in the morning until seven at night.

"I'd like the lottery and I'm thinking of asking them for a better explanation why I can't get it. It makes no sense having three in a short distance on City Road."

David Gregory, GT News sales and marketing manager, said reports of bonanza earnings from the lottery are misleading. "It has been a completely mixed bag. Some shops have done exceptionally well but it is dependent on where in the shop the terminal is located.

"It's a question of queue management. If the lottery queue obscures the magazine rack, magazine sales fall."

Two-thirds of the 97 GT News shops in South Yorkshire have lottery terminals and one had a revenue average of pounds 6,510 a week between April and August - a profit for the shop of pounds 325.50 a week.

However, Mr Gregory concedes that shops lose out because of the way Camelot set up the system based on postal areas and the amount of trade each shop did. "Some have suffered because of the postal areas. Whoever worked them out must have been a jigsaw fanatic."