Among the top 100 weekly and monthly magazines reporting ABC figures for the first half of 2013, 11 have increased their newsstand sales over the past 12 months.
If that does not seem particularly remarkable, in the context of an overall market that has been falling steadily for six or seven years, top-selling titles that are still achieving sales growth surely deserve a special mention.
The 11 magazines that have bucked the downward trend are TV Choice – about which more below
Housekeeping, Ideal Home, Fun to Learn Pippa Pig, Style at Home, House Beautiful, Octonauts, Living etc, and the pre-teen titles Toxic and Go Girl.
Other leading titles whose newsstand sales held up relatively well compared to the market as a whole included Woman’s Weekly, Woman & Home, Your Home, 25 Beautiful Homes and Men’s Health.
The bad news is that across all categories sales losses outnumbered increases.
The key women’s weeklies market suffered particularly badly, with overall sales down by more than a million copies a week – a drop of over 15%. This category, which at its peak attracted more than eight and a half million customers a week to the newsstand, can now muster only five and a half million sales – and more than a million of those are either at reduced prices or in multipacks.
Price-cutting also hit the TV listings sector as market leader TV Choice sought to defend its position following TV Pick’s ill-fated entry into the market. Those retailers who believed from the outset that a price- and discount-led challenge in a mature category would lead only to the destruction of value were proved right.
Nearly two-thirds of TV Choice’s sales during the period were at reduced prices, costing retailers and the publisher much-needed revenues. The impact of the price war was also felt by all of the other listings titles.
In terms of copy sales, the price cuts worked for TV Choice, adding a few extra sales and stretching its lead over What’s on TV – which stayed out of the price-war – while the category’s overall sales held up relatively well, restricting the decline of the seven established titles to less than 7%.
Whether the value of the listings category will ever be restored to its previous level is another matter.
Also open to question is whether, with the general economy showing signs of recovery, newsstand sales of magazines will start to pick up.
For further in-depth analysis read the 23rd August issue of Retail Newsagent