It’s getting to be old news now. Magazine newsstand sales are declining, according to the latest data from MagNet. But what is new, and worrisome, is that the declines are accelerating and the pain is spreading.
The newsstand tracker’s first-half 2015 numbers are in and they show that the key metric of sales efficiency hit what it says is an all-time low. Only 26.8 percent of the magazines publishers distributed to retail outlets actually sold, down from 31 percent in the first half of 2014.
That even despite publishers responding by paring back the number of hard copies distributed by 40 million over the same time period, but perhaps owing partly to an average 5 percent increase in cover prices. The latter move was factored into a dollar sales efficiency figure of 26.5 percent.
MagNet, though, puts a caveat on the comparison; the 2014 numbers may be overestimated both because numbers from Source Interlink Distribution dried up when it went out of business, and Barnes & Noble stopped providing data this year.
Yet MagNet is confident enough in the numbers to suggest in its narrative on the data that a stabilization of newsstand circ doesn’t appear to be in sight. The decline began eight years ago and sales are approaching an inauspicious milestone.
“We estimate that newsstand magazine sales will generate about $2.5 billion in 2015, just about half of what was generated in 2007,” the review reads in part.
MagNet’s outlook for 2015 looks even gloomier looking beyond the first-half numbers that are in the books. It says preliminary July and August numbers are tracking worse than those for the first half.
There’s more bad news in the analysis of who’s being affected by the consumer’s growing lack of interest in picking up single copies. MagNet data shows that smaller titles whose newsstand sales had been holding up well against bigger ones are now feeling the squeeze. Whereas the top 25 and 50 titles had been experiencing larger declines, the latest data show that titles in the top 100 and top 1000 have pulled even. The percentage decline in sales is now more similar across all groups of titles through the top 1000, ranging from -1.4 percent for the top 25, to 3.2 percent for the top 1000.