According to the latest ABCs, UK magazine sales increased by 0.3 per cent in the first half of 2010 compared to last year. This follows a robust performance in the previous period, where total magazine circulation fell by just 1.3 per cent year on year.
Overall, magazine publishers still face big challenges, with last year’s sales sinking to a low of 23.8 million. While news and current affairs titles such as the Economist are doing well, lifestyle publications are generally struggling.
Men’s magazines have been hit particularly hard. The so called “lads’ mags” have continued to suffer sharp falls in sales as their audience seems to have moved online. The average circulation of Nuts magazine decreased by 22 per cent to 147,134 in the six months to June, while Zoo dropped by 27.9 per cent to 80,026.
Men’s Health extended its lead in the men’s paid-for consumer magazine sector, despite average monthly sales of 245,754, down of 1.9 per cent on the previous half and 1.8 per cent year on year.
But it is women’s lifestyle magazines that show the most diversity. Influenced by freesheet Stylist, the women’s lifestyle and fashion sector saw an overall growth of 14.6 per cent year on year and 6.9 per cent period on period to 6,922,973. Yet Cosmopolitan and Company reported big falls: Cosmopolitan’s ABC circulation of 401,750 fell nine per cent year on year and shows a 6.6 per cent decline compared with the second half of 2009. Company reported a circulation of 217,324, an annual fall of 5.6 per cent and a 9.5 per cent period drop.
However, the were also some clear winners. Glamour retained the industry’s top position with a rise in circulation of 2.1 per cent to 526,216 copies year on year, and no change in its year on year results. The gap between Glamour and Cosmopolitan and Company is as big as it’s ever been, and the handbag glossy outsells Elle and Marie Claire combined.
It’s worth noting that Glamour offered two cover mounts during this reporting period. This could have encouraged the mainly younger readers, who are attracted to free stuff, to buy three issues and collect all three products. But this is not an approach that would benefit all magazines equally, and it’s not necessarily sustainable. Perhaps most crucially, nor does it mean that all three issues have been read.