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Magazine Newsstand Sales Halved Over Past Decade

30 Sep 2011

The combined newsstand sales of 68 major American magazines declined by nearly half from 2001-2011, according to an analysis of Audit Bureau of Circulations data revealed.

A MediaPost analysis indicates that according to ABC FAS-FAX circulation reports, this group of leading weekly and monthly magazines saw total average newsstand sales plunge from 22,019,953 in the six-month period ending June 2001 to 11,562,028 in the six-month period ending June 2011 -- a 47.5 per cent decline over the course of the decade.

Total newsstand sales have gradually collapsed over the last 10 years, accelerating in recent years in response to broader economic pressures. Newsstand sales have declined steadily, dropping every single year from 2001-2011. After slowly declining from 22 million in 2001 to just over 17 million in 2007, shedding 23 per cent over the course of seven years, the rate of loss increased from 2008 to 2011 -- shedding another 32 per cent in just four years.

The losses are also evenly distributed throughout the group, with 58 out of 68 magazines (85 per cent) seeing newsstand sales decline from 2001-2011. Among the remaining 10 titles, newsstand sales growth was usually fairly modest -- in absolute numbers if not proportionally.

For example, Fast Company's newsstand sales increased 4.1 per cent from 28,667 in 2001 to 29,841 in 2011, while Inc. grew 150 per cent from 10,429 to 26,125 over the same period. The other 85 per cent of magazines experienced declines that were often dramatic.

In one of the more ominous developments, women seem to be losing interest in many newsstand titles traditionally aimed at them, which are responsible for a large share of total newsstand sales. In the domestic category, from 2001-2011 newsstand sales fell 52.5 per cent at Better Homes and Gardens, from 360,833 to 171,457, 67 per cent at Good Housekeeping, from 1,025,517 to 339,528, and 59 per cent at Ladies' Home Journal, from 367,667 to 151,051. Family Circle plunged 68.2 per cent from 1,654,125 to 525,358, and Martha Stewart Living tumbled 60.3 per cent from 499,666 to 198,700.

In fashion, beauty, and women's lifestyle mags, from 2001-2011 Allure dipped 45.4 per cent from 283,730 to 155,016; Glamour 46.5 per cent from 1,042,164 to 453,707; In Style 37.3 per cent from 909,214 to 570,272; Marie Claire 67.3 per cent from 607,125 to 198,752; Self 37 per cent from 386,539 to 243,889; and Seventeen 39 per cent from 465,172 to 295,530. The biggest losses came at Redbook, down 81 per cent from 588,860 to 111,961, and Woman's Day, down 77.3 per cent from 1,493,250 to 339,350.

More modest losses were seen at Cosmopolitan, down 16.6 per cent from 1,918,279 to 1,599,305, and Vogue, which slipped 16.9 per cent from 433,269 to 360,400. Some celebrity titles did better than others, with People declining a relatively modest 23.5 per cent from 1,507,281 to 1,153,774, while Entertainment Weekly fell 70 per cent from 106,471 to 31,823.

In epicurean and cooking titles, from 2001-2011 Bon Appetit fell 62.9 per cent from 197,887 to 73,447, but more modest losses were seen at Cooking Light, down 29.5 per cent from 229,961 to 162,270, Food & Wine, down 37.6 per cent from 77,118 to 48,150, and Saveur, down 35 per cent from 64,405 to 41,940.

As might be expected during the real estate downturn, shelter and regional lifestyle titles also took a hit, with Architectural Digest falling 47.6 per cent from 129,726 to 67,994; Country Living 71.8 per cent from 403,351 to 113,836; Southern Living 47.2 per cent from 245,123 to 129,465; and Town & Country 38.8 per cent from 60,534 to 37,056.

There were some unexpected bright spots in men's titles -- but that's not to say the category was spared by any means. From 2001-2011, Maxim saw newsstand sales plunge 70.5 per cent from 825,162 to 243,737, while Details fell 32.7 per cent from 68,038 to 45,789 and ESPN the Magazine tumbled 76.3 per cent from 52,912 to 12,529. However, GQ declined just 16.7 per cent from 201,864 to 168,968, and some titles actually increased: Esquire grew 20 per cent from 69,551 to 95,470, and Men's Health tipped the half-million mark for several years before settling to 431,792 in 2011 -- still up 11.7 per cent from 386,575 in 2001.

Among automotive enthusiast titles, Car and Driver fell 52.1 per cent from 144,867 to 70,911; Motor Trend 52.3 per cent from 160,722 to 76,621; Popular Mechanics 50.7 per cent from 192,983 to 95,192; and Road and Track 62.8 per cent from 147,750 to 54,262.

Although magazine publishers are looking to sell both digital single copies and subscriptions intended for consumption with tablet computers, e-readers and online, digital newsstand sales remain fairly low. In August Time Inc. revealed that it had sold a total of about 600,000 digital copies of People, Time,Sports Illustrated and Fortune across all platforms, and Conde Nast said it had sold a total of about 106,000 digital editions of its various magazines through Apple's iTunes store in the preceding six weeks, per Adweek.

Source: MediaPost

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