girl, magazines, mags, local, shopsThere’s an unlimited supply and there is no reason why, the Sex Pistols used to sing of the 1970s music industry. What drove sales was fashion and people’s need to be first to have the new song and the new hairstyle. For local shops that want to sell magazines, however, the lyrics could be changed to there’s a limited supply.

The maths behind this is simply explained in a recent Neville Rhodes’ column in Retail Newsagent. There are only 42 magazines in the UK that average a sale of more than three copies per outlet – out of a universe of 3,500 magazines available.

As 52 per cent of the sales are achieved in 15 per cent of the outlets (mainly supermarkets and WHSmith) and independents with 60 per cent of the outlets achieve 27 per cent of the sales, this shows that most magazines are more likely not to be sold in most outlets. The short shelf life of most magazine titles – either weekly or monthly – and the promiscuity of magazine shoppers who will buy their favourite title from a number of outlets adds to the challenge for both suppliers and retailers.

In its Bestsellers analysis, Retail Newsagent interviews nine retailers who are successful at selling magazines and asks them what matters. Peter Aldersey of Christchurch, Dorset, says that he tries every new magazine and he focuses his range to match the demographics of his shoppers.

At an industry level, publishers are trying to minimise their print runs and allocate publications to where they think they will sell. At retail level, some retailers are actively managing their ranges to match what shoppers want. However, a huge number of independent retail outlets do not appear to be offering great value to either shoppers or publishers.

For those local retailers who do want to sell magazines, this is an opportunity. The challenges lie in how to exploit it by establishing yourself as a destination for local shoppers and then how to communicate this to the supply chain so that your allocation is protected.

“Publishers are providing fresh investment all the time,” Mr Aldersey told Retail Newsagent, which is why he has faith in the future of magazine sales.