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A Tough Second Half for Newsstand Sales

As the economy tumbled toward the end of the year, so, too, did magazine circulation.

Cover of Vogue

Cover of Vogue

Photo By Courtesy Photo

As the economy tumbled toward the end of the year, so, too, did magazine circulation. For the second half of 2008, nearly every large fashion and lifestyle title saw a steep decline in single-copy sales.

Though O, The Oprah Magazine; Redbook; Teen Vogue; Glamour; Harper’s Bazaar; W; Marie Claire, and Allure all reported double-digit declines in single-copy sales, titles in the fashion and lifestyle sector maintained their individual rate base levels via paid and verified subscriptions. For Jack Hanrahan, a former media buyer and now editor of trade newsletter CircMatters, it’s a sign that “publishers can shift to a more subscription oriented strategy and make their guarantees to advertisers.” Nevertheless, while publishers are attempting to shift the focus to subscriptions to offset declining single-copy sales, in the current environment, media buyers will have to “watch those magazines that are more dependent on single-copy sales — Glamour, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar — those fashion books that are selling in excess of 600,000 copies” on the newsstand.

And, while the declining economy is likely a reason fewer consumers forked over money for magazines, one explanation could be their attention turned elsewhere during the election. Case in point: Hanrahan pointed out that Time’s single-copy sales increased some 20 percent in the last six months of 2008 over the second half of 2007, and Newsweek’s circulation was on track to grow 18 percent over the same period the year prior, thanks to blockbuster issues around election-night coverage.

Below, WWD outlines the circulation figures for the largest fashion and lifestyle titles as filed to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.