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SLOW GOING: You won’t need a forklift to pick up those typically thump-heavy September fashion magazines this year. As publishers approach their closing deadlines next week, most are resigned to the fact that the issues will be about a third lighter than in years past. Hard-pressed sales executives corralled clients into September through any number of ways: extended close dates, aggressive discounts on page rates, and added value. Some publishers had hoped for an uptick in ad spending this summer that would have resulted in a 20 percent decline in paging for September. But with the worst comparative-store sales results in history at retail during the first half of 2009 and a recovery not expected until mid-2010, most publishers are forecasting a sharper decline in ad pages compared with last year’s levels.
For some, up to 30 percent fewer ads in their September issues will be not quite a relief, but almost. Those magazines more dependent on newly frugal luxury advertisers were hinting at painful 40 percent declines in paging this spring.
While publishers were hesitant to speak on the record until their issues had officially closed, most weren’t panicked about the state of affairs, given that the industry has had nearly a year to adjust to the worst ad recession in decades. In past months, clients have cut noncore titles from their schedule entirely while booking fewer pages in their core books. “People who placed four pages last year are doing two and spreading their pages across the year,” said one publisher. And Condé Nast’s fashion titles, among them Vogue, Lucky, Allure, Glamour and GQ, had already braced for the deficit in pages from the disappearance of the company’s “Fashion Rocks” corporate marketing program. That said, most agreed September still will be the largest of the issues this fall, as most advertisers either scrapped their pre-collection ads that usually run in August to concentrate on September, or will likely run fewer pages — if any — in October, November and December.
— Stephanie D. Smith