Women’s weeklies and lifestyle titles hit in latest ABCs

By Richard Stuart-Turner, Friday 17 August 2018

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released the latest consumer magazine reports, highlighting a continued decline for women’s weeklies and lifestyle titles but growth in numerous other sectors.

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The women’s weeklies sector experienced a year-on-year circulation drop of 11%

The figures, which were released yesterday (15 August) and covered the first six months of 2018, showed that circulation of women’s weeklies fell by 11% year-on-year, women’s home interests dropped by 6% and women’s lifestyle/fashion declined by 5%.

Other sectors experiencing notable declines were general interest – retirement, which fell by 11%, general interest – sci-fi, which dropped by 9%, and TV listings, which was down by 5%.

Seven sectors showed overall growth, however; general interest – miscellaneous (up 22%), general interest – literary (up 17%), women’s general interest (up 9%), teenage – entertainment (up 7%), children’s magazines – pre-school (up 6%), news and current affairs – international (up 3%) and home interest – gardening (up 2%).

Notable success stories included The Spectator, with combined print and digital circulation up 11% year-on-year, and Hello! – the printing of which has just returned to the UK at Prinovis – up by 8%, with spin-off Hello! Fashion Monthly up by 11%.

Hello! business director Kevin Petley said the figures had “proven the enduring strength and supremacy of the brand”, as he praised the editorial team, the circulation team and distributor Marketforce, and the title’s relationships with and support from retailers.

“This strong ABC is a direct result of Hello!’s brand heritage, values and our approach to the market, as well as continued investment in our content.”

Also posting significant overall circulation increases; Take A Break Monthly (up 9%), The Economist – United Kingdom Edition (up 8%) and The Economist – Continental Europe Edition (up 6%), Top of the Pops (up 8%), Red (up 3%), Bella (up 3%), Weightwatchers Magazine (up 2%), Stylist (up 1%) and Vogue (up 1%).

Print-only titles posting large circulation increases included The Week Junior, also achieving the biggest overall growth with a circulation increase of 29% year-on-year to 59,266, Disney’s Princess (up 28%), Go Girl (up 25%) and Times Literary Supplement (up 19%).

Some of the biggest falls in overall year-on-year circulation came from TI Media titles Now, down by 42% year-on-year to 50,754, Woman’s Own (down 24%), Woman (down 24%), Pick Me Up (down 13%), TV & Satellite Week (down 11%), TV Times (down 11%), Chat (down 10%), Woman’s Weekly (down 10%), 25 Beautiful Homes (down 10%) and Living etc (down 10%).

The publisher’s other titles – Ideal Home, What’s On TV, Woman & Home and Homes & Gardensall posted a year-on-year circulation drop between 6% and 9%.

Formerly known as Time Inc UK, the publisher was purchased by Epiris together with New Scientist chairman Sir Bernard Gray in February, during the period tracked by the latest ABC figures.

TI Media managing director of women’s weeklies and TV Mark Winterton told Campaign that sales of its weekly titles had been affected by a strategic decision to cut out packs containing more than one magazine.

“Bigger packs, while offering a discounted package that boosts sales, aren’t valued by those consumers who wish to buy only the individual magazine they care about. There are times when these packs alone are available, and this limits choice.

“We’ve focused instead on improving the editorial strength of our magazines, with every weekly title in our portfolio benefiting from redevelopment. While these ABC figures reflect our removal of bigger packs, we’re encouraged by initial positive signs in the underlying sales performance.”

Other significant year-on-year circulation falls were experienced by Cosmopolitan (down 25%), Marie Claire (down 21%), Olive (down 19%), Reveal (down 18%) and Men’s Health (down 16%).

The three titles acquired by Reach as part of its near-£200m acquisition of Northern & Shell’s publishing assets in February, were also all down, with Star and New’s circulation both falling by 13% year-on-year and OK! Magazine down by 9%.

The most successful title in the six-month period was Tesco Magazine, though its circulation fell by 1% to 1,937,699.

The UK’s biggest paid-for title, TV Choice, was second with circulation down 3% to 1,167,012, while What’s on TV was third, with circulation down 6% to 831,227.

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