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Audit Figures Indicate Ray of Light for Magazine Sales

18 Aug 2009

Magazine sales fell 4.6 per cent in the June circulation audit and readership was down almost 4 per cent, according to data released last week.


According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, average sales for weekly magazines in the three months to June were down about 1 per cent on the same quarter last year exhibiting a significant improvement on the past twelve months performance.


Analysis by Fusion Strategy showed average weekly magazine sales fell by 9.3 per cent in the June quarter last year, 6.7 per cent in the September quarter, 7.3 per cent in the December quarter and 5.3 per cent in the March quarter this year.


Slowing the rate of attrition was last year's launch of Grazia into the fashion weekly category.


"Nevertheless, the rate of decay has slowed, as we felt it would," Fusion Strategy founder Steve Allen told The Australian. "The trend for weeklies (is) quite heartening. Perhaps we are past the worst."


Total sales of monthlies, bi-monthlies and quarterlies rose 2.1 per cent, compared with a 2.2 per cent increase in the December half and an 8.6 per cent fall in the June half last year.


However, without newcomers Top Gear and Australian Good Food bolstering the numbers, Mr Allen said, the market would have fallen slightly.


"With generally much higher cover prices (monthlies) are doing it tougher with consumer discretionary expenditure," he said. "The falls are many and large."


Roy Morgan Readership data, also released last week, shows gross magazine readership declined 3.8 per cent in the year to June, from 41.4 million to 39.9million.


"It has stabilised," Pacific Magazines chief executive Nick Chan told The Australian. "The total market is relatively flat period-to-period."


"The message for all of us is that the destiny and the growth of magazines is still very much in our hands," he said. "If you get it together, if you get the right product, the right marketing and the right distribution, you get a positive result."


Of the 17 categories, 15 showed an overall circulation decline, led by children's titles, which were down almost 25 per cent. Average total sales in the biggest category, mass women's weekly magazines, fell 4.8 per cent.


The only categories to defy the decline were health and family, in which average sales rose by a very healthy 10.6 per cent, and home and garden, which went up 1.2 per cent.


The biggest individual percentage gains of the audit were posted by Famous (up 20 per cent), Diabetic Living (up 18.6 per cent), Healthy Food Guide (up 15 per cent), Better Homes & Gardens (up 10.5 per cent) and Notebook (up 9 per cent).


The biggest percentage losses were recorded by AFL Record, Weight Watchers, Motor, Cleo and Disney Adventures, which all fell by more than 19 per cent.


The full list of Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for both newspapers and magazines can be found on this link.



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