Newsstand Declines Slowed in Q1 of 2016
General Interest magazines are the big winners as the Celebrity and Women's categories, as well as convenience stores, continue to struggle.
The latest figures from MagNet indicate that the decline of the newsstand may finally be approaching a long-awaited plateau.
North American publishers sold 101.6 million magazines on newsstands in the first quarter of 2016, which yielded a 5.1 percent drop-off in overall revenue compared to the same period last year, according to MagNet's quarterly sales report, released today.
That 5.1 percent dip in revenue is a marked improvement from the 7.6 percent year-over-year decline observed in the fourth quarter of 2015, and MagNet notes that the cumulative two-quarter decline of 6.3 percent is noticeably rosier than the double-digit downturns observed over the past two years.
The number of actual units sold fell 9.7 percent year-over-year, but a higher average cover price ($5.60, up from $5.32 a year ago) helped soften the revenue blow.
Sell-through efficiency—the percentage of units distributed to newsstands that end up purchased by consumers—remained completely flat, at 26.9 percent, meaning the degree to which publishers scaled back distribution corresponded more or less exactly with the decline in units sold.
The Celebrity and Women's categories, which together account for more than a third of all newsstand sales, continue to drive most of the declines, down 11.5 percent and 13.4 percent in dollars, respectively. Home/Garden (-13.9 percent), Business/Finance (-16.8 percent), and Teen/Children (-22 percent), also saw steep drop-offs in newsstand revenue.
Remarkably, MagNet reports that General Interest magazines achieved something of a comeback, up 14.2 percent in revenue and 17.6 percent in the number of units sold, year-over-year. This could partially be attributed to two high-profile presidential primary campaigns—Gfk reported last month that covers featuring Donald Trump drive really terrific newsstand sales.
Science magazines also enjoyed a strong quarter, up 9.4 percent in units sold, continuing a recent trend.
Also continuing a trend from 2015 is the fact that every retail outlet in which magazines are sold, overall, sold less magazines than they did a year ago. Supermarkets and Supercenters, which together account for nearly half of the newsstand market, sold 9.5 percent and 5.4 percent less magazines, respectively.
Bookstores remain the most immune to the declines, down just 4 percent in units sold and 0.8 percent in revenue. Convenience Stores and Terminals (airports, train stations, etc.) took the hardest hits, down 17.9 percent and 17 percent year-over-year, respectively, in Q1 revenues.