Among fashion magazines, Elle and Harper's Bazaar were flat, while Vogue was down 5 percent on top of a 6 percent decline in the second half of 2006. W got a massive boost from its August cover of David and Victoria Beckham, which, at more than 80,000 copies, was the best-selling in its history, securing a 13 percent rise in newsstand sales on average.
Things were tougher in the middle. Despite efforts to freshen its look, In Style was down nearly 9 percent, and Marie Claire continues to struggle. This week, the magazine unveiled in its March issue an entirely new cover strategy, its second or third cover redesign in two years, though a spokeswoman preferred to describe the changes as a "natural evolution of the arrival of Marie Claire's new creative director, Suzanne Sykes," who was hired in May by editor in chief Joanna Coles. The 14.3 percent drop in the second half of 2007 followed a 26.9 percent drop over the year before; in total, the magazine has shed more than a third of its newsstand in second-half periods since Coles became editor in spring 2006. Two strong months in last year's second half approached the levels seen two years ago, raising the current average to 341,000: July with Angelina Jolie and September with Ashley Olsen.
Marie Claire isn't alone in seeing tough numbers, however: Glamour's newsstand declined 13 percent in the period to an average of 747,014, marking the title's sixth consecutive half-year reporting period with a newsstand drop. The December issue, which featured Jennifer Garner on the cover, sold especially poorly — 245,000 copies less than the December 2006 one, a 26 percent decrease. Allure also reported double-digit declines in the half, at 12.6 percent. The magazine pointed to its having raised the cover price from $2.99 to $3.50 in August 2006 as a reason. Allure was ahead of the curve: over at Hearst Magazines, many of its titles raised their cover prices last year.
The one bright spot in women's magazines for newsstand sales appears to be the health and fitness category: Shape saw a 10 percent bump to 355,864 for the period, with notable success on July's Leann Rimes cover, which sold 482,295 copies, edging out perennial rival Self, which was up 3.6 percent to 351,317. Women's Health continued its robust growth since launching in October 2005, though it is still smaller than its competitors.