Gardening magazines are one of the few sectors showing growth in the magazine market, according to figures and research prepared by Seymour Distribtion and seen by betterRetailing. 

The most successful overall category in terms of year-on-year volume and retail sales value (RSV) growth was the puzzle market, but gardening titles are helping boost the home improvement category.  

The analysis from Seymour shows that gardening magazines – a sector worth more than £12m annually – were up 3.3% in RSV year on year to the end of December 2019, with volume up 2.2%. 

This helped the home improvement category stem overall RSV decline to just 1.2%, compared with an overall market decline of 5.1%.

Gardening titles make up almost three quarters of the home improvement market’s total value of nearly £17m. 

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Retailer John Vine, of Newsworld in Church Stretton, Shropshire, said: “Gardening magazines work for us and we have a dedicated gardening section. We have noticed sales growing in the past year or two. If they put seeds or any free gift on the cover, they will sell. BBC Gardeners’ World is far and away our best seller.”

The magazine’s managing director, Dominic Murray, said: “At BBC Gardeners’ World magazine, we invest in unique and distinctive content from leading contributors and experts. 

“We add value in the form of extra pages, sections, supplements or cover mounts, and they are incredibly popular.”

Murray added that campaigns such as Grow Yourself Healthy and “unique and privileged access” to the people and places that matter were key to its performance. “The success of our annual two-for-one gardens to visit guide helps make the May issue, at £1.3m RSV, the most valuable edition of any UK monthly consumer magazine on the newsstand,” he said.

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“This demand ensures the category is resilient, even in times of political and economic uncertainty, and I’m confident this performance trend is set to continue.”

Vine added that knowing when the free gift issues were coming will help. “You have to know when the big issues are coming. I double my order with things like the Gardeners’ World calendar.”

In other publishing areas, puzzle magazines grew by 2.6% in RSV to the end of 2019. Their performance was helped by growth in the children’s, mixed, logic and word search sub-segments. 

Cricket-related titles were up 11.9% in RSV and 6.7% in sales – buoyed by England’s recent strong showing in test and limited-over competitions. 

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