The steady decline of the North American newsstand continued in the first half of 2016, down 10.8 percent in units sold compared to the same period last year, according to the latest figures from MagNet.
An increase in average cover price — from $5.28 in the first half of 2015 to $5.55 this year — helped mitigate declines in dollar sales, which dipped just 6.2 percent. That's roughly consistent with the drop-offs over the previous two quarters, and certainly an improvement over the 13 percent decrease in revenue observed in 2015.
As always, though, macro trends don't tell the whole story. When breaking down the data, certain bright spots (and areas of concern) emerge.
The Celebrity and Women's categories, which together account for 36.4 percent of all newsstand sales, continue to bear the brunt of the attrition. Both declined 14.3 percent in units sold, far outpacing industry averages. The Home/Garden (-15.2 percent), and Health/Fitness (-15.1 percent) categories experienced similar declines. Although a less significant portion of the market, the Sports, Automotive, Crafts, and Business/Finance categories also saw double-digit declines in both dollar sales and units.
On a more positive note, General Interest magazines actually increased significantly in both dollar sales and units sold, up 22.5 and 23.6 percent, respectively, compared to the first half of last year. Likewise, Entertainment magazines also jumped, up 2.3 percent in units sold and 14.1 percent in dollar sales, a clear indication that consumers have not been repelled by significantly increased cover prices.
The Food/Wine category, which alone accounted for 7.6 percent of all newsstand sales and continues to gain market share, fared comparatively well, down just 6.3 percent in units sold and 2.5 percent in dollar sales.
As far as retail outlets go, Supermarkets still account for the lion's share of newsstand sales, but Supercenters (Walmart, Target, etc.) and Bookstores are gaining ground. The struggle to compete for shelf space in Drug and Convenience stores continues, where units sold fell 21.7 and 27.3 percent, respectively. No class of retail outlets did better in the first half of 2016 than they did last year, but Supercenters performed the best, down just six percent in units and 0.9 percent in dollar sales.
This time around, MagNet chose to highlight a selection of magazines that increased their newsstand business in the first half of 2016.
Some selected winners (increase in units sold):
Playboy – Playboy Enterprises (17.8 percent)
Guns & Ammo – Outdoors Sportsman Group (17.8 percent)
Simply Crochet – Future US (13.9 percent)
Crochet World – Annie's Publishing (10.8 percent)
The Atlantic – Atlantic Media (8.9 percent)
Closer – Bauer Publishing (6.5 percent)
Country Living – Hearst (6.4 percent)
Harvard Business Review (4.2 percent)
First for Women – Bauer Publishing (3.8 percent)