Newsstand sales continue to sting Canadian mags

The Audit Bureau of Circulation's FAS-FAX report, released today, reveals an overall decline of over 5% for the second half of 2008.

Canadian consumer magazines continued to suffer on the newsstands for the second half of 2008, as single-copy sales were down overall by 23.63%, according to a bi-annual report released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). The outlook is not as dreary on the subscriptions front, as total paid subscriptions were down by 4.78%. Overall, the combined decrease of both single-copy and subscriptions was 5.29% over the previous year.

Of the 49 consumer magazines audited, 25 saw a double-digit decrease of single-copy sales including Canadian Business (-47.6%), Flare (-39.9%) Canadian Family (-66.3%) and Profit magazine (-89.1%).

Bucking the trend, those that managed to sell more on the newsstand than in 2007 include: Hello! (51.2%); Quebec’s lifestyle/gossip mag La Semaine (13.4%); Canadian Gardening (14.1%); two Transcontinental business titles Affaires Plus (15.1%) and Commerce (63.8%); and Maclean’s (6.5%).

There’s still a market for celebrity news, as Hello! shows a substantial gain on the subscriptions front, leading the pack with a whopping 250% overall increase. Western Sportsman also continued its successful run in 2008, with a 38.1% increase in total paid and verified subscriptions. More, the magazine for women over 40, again showed an increase in subs this half of the year with a 38.7% gain; and Oxygen Women’s Fitness had a 31.1% gain.

Overall, most well-known consumer magazines dropped only slightly in total sub and single-copy circ. For instance, Chatelaine and Fashion magazines both had an overall drop of 4.1%. Canadian Living and Today’s Parent both had an overall 3.2% decrease; and Toronto Life dropped overall by 4%. Canadian Business, which did poorly on single-copy sales, had an overall gain in circ of .8%.

In the first half of 2008, ABC changed the way compiles its numbers. For the first time it included bulk sales in the ‘total analyzed non-paid’ category, and not in the single copy sales calculations. The change was made to accommodate a request from advertisers, but had a significant effect on the single-copy sales numbers, according to an analysis by industry mag Masthead Online.

Last week ABC announced it will speed up its audits process by conducting it away from the publisher’s offices. Under the Audit Fast Track timeline, ABC will increase audit turnaround time by starting the audit before the period even closes. ABC hopes the majority of their 2,200 US and Canadian publications will make the change by September 2010.