Big Issue seller in supermarket row

Big Issue seller Andy Ross at Waitrose
Big Issue seller Andy Ross at Waitrose
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A BIG Issue seller asked to move his pitch outside a Sheffield city centre supermarket after complaints about ‘aggressive’ sales tactics claims his sales have more than halved.

Andy Ross has been homeless for two years and sells the magazine outside the Waitrose store, off Ecclesall Road roundabout.

The 35-year-old used to sell outside the store’s entrance but has been told to stand outside the exit doors instead after the complaints. Mr Ross said his weekly sales have fallen by as much as 140 since being moved.

One shopper said: “I’ve found Andy shy rather than aggressive. He is quite popular and has a lot of regular customers. Last year, he won an award for selling the most copies in Sheffield.”

Mr Ross, from Hillsborough, who lost his home while suffering a drink problem, said: “If I had done anything wrong, why am I still being allowed to sell on the premises?

“I sell the Big Issue so I don’t have to claim benefits and can get some money to put my life back on track. But whilst I used to sell 200 to 300 copies a week, sales are now down by 140 copies.”

Simon Kweeday, regional sales manager for The Big Issue, said: “We are aware that Waitrose has received a number of complaints about the vendor but our office in Sheffield has recently received messages of support for him. The Big Issue is working with Waitrose to resolve any issues.”

A Waitrose spokesman said: “We made Andy aware that we had received nearly 100 complaints about his behaviour from shoppers in the last few months. However, we have a long-standing relationship with the Big Issue, which we want to continue.”

The store manager is inviting the Big Issue and Mr Ross for a talk.