Top magazines stayed strong in lockdown, says Smiths News

93% of the top 500 titles in February 2020 were still in the elite group by September 2020

The top 500 titles stocked by independent stores remained stable throughout the national lockdown, according to Smiths News data seen by RN. 

A comparison of reports from February and September 2020 showed 93% of the top 500 titles in February 2020 were still in the elite group by September 2020. 

However, a closer look revealed the changes that have taken place on UK magazine racks. 

Growing sales of puzzle titles were reflected in expanded rangings of the category. Lucky Seven Crossword Collection moved up 107 places from 348th in February to the 241st-most-stocked title in September, and Family Wordsearch Jumbo moved 61 places from 201 to 140. 

Smiths News’ annual revenue drops due to pandemic

Meanwhile, despite overall claims children’s titles grew during lockdown, the data showed diverse performances. 

Disney Star fell 27 places from 51 to 78 and BBC Toybox fell 33 places from 65 to 98. However, Frozen Funtime improved its ranking by 44 places from 149 to 105 and Pokémon climbed 29 places from 102 to 73. 

Speaking to RN, Duncan Shearer, client services director at Seymour, said the puzzle magazine sector grew particularly well in the first lockdown, but not as well in the second. 

He added that, in general, children’s magazines are performing “brilliantly”, and were outperforming the pre-Covid period by 9%. He said they performed particularly well in the lead-up to Christmas. 

However, other segments of the market declined during this period. Women’s interest magazines such as Cosmopolitan have been delisted in many local shops, falling 32 positions from the 156th to 188th-most-stocked title. Red has also plunged by 20 place from 95 to 115. 

Men’s lifestyle magazines have been similarly affected. Men’s Health has fallen 44 places to 353 and Wallpaper has declined by 58 places to 403. 

Current-affairs titles have also suffered. The New Statesmen fell 37 places from 83 to 120 and Investors’ Chronicle fell 34 places from 88 to 122. Specialist interest titles have also fallen down the rankings, with Modern Homes falling 120 places from 493 to 613 and Autosport down 74 places from 116 to 190. 

However, Shearer said that these tiles are now in recovery as people return to the high streets. He said: “The high street recovering and simultaneously more people shopping locally is great news for independent retailers. 

“With people spending more time in their local communities and at home, independent retailers that stock good magazines will benefit. It’s great to see people still love magazines.” 

He added that local stores continued to outperform the market by 12% in December. 


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