Celebrity Weeklies, Fashion Magazines Continue to Struggle on Newsstand

Business, gun titles are a bright spot

Headshot of Emma Bazilian

Today, the Alliance for Audited Media released its consumer magazine circulation data for the second half of 2013, and once again, the narrative remains the same. Overall circulation remained relatively flat versus the year-ago period (declining of about 1.7 percent), with newsstand sales continuing their steep decline (dropping 11 percent) and digital editions up sharply (36.7 percent) but making up just 3.5 percent of total circulation. All numbers are preliminary and subject to audit.

Celebrity weeklies—the big newsstand drivers—continue to struggle, with every title in the category seeing double-digit single-copy declines. The biggest decliners were OK! Magazine and Life & Style, both off about 17 percent.

Fashion magazines, which also make up a significant portion of newsstand sales, also posted significant declines. (An exception was W, which has a small newsstand circulation). Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, People StyleWatch and Vogue all fell more than 20 percent. Lucky and Harper’s Bazaar fared relatively well, with declines only in the single digits.

Other weak categories for the second half of the year included auto magazines, health and fitness magazines (Men’s Fitness, however, bucked that trend, increasing 20 percent in newsstand sales) and men's magazines like Maxim and Playboy.

There were a few bright spots: Business publications including Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Harvard Business Review and Money. Inc. and Fast Company saw huge newsstand gains, increasing 58 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Travel magazines were strong, with Condé Nast Traveler, Afar and Travel & Leisure gaining a respective 44 percent, 38 percent and 20 percent in single-copy sales. News and culture weeklies also had a good run. Time was up 11 percent in newsstand sales, The New Yorker added 14 percent, and New York increased 55 percent. Those categories generally have a small newsstand presence, though, so their gains are unlikely to have an impact on overall industry trends.

Finally, it seems that the popularity of gun magazines isn’t declining anytime soon. America’s First Freedom saw a 40 percent gain in overall circulation, followed by American Rifleman with 29 percent and American Hunter with 18 percent. Guns & Ammo and Handguns, while declining in newsstand sales, also grew their total circ.

@adweekemma emma.bazilian@adweek.com Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.