Fashion Magazines See Little Newsstand Love in March

Only 'InStyle,' 'Glamour' manage increases

In January, when most of the major fashion and beauty titles reported ad page increases for their key March issues, the industry was looking forward to a sunny spring. Unfortunately, everything isn’t coming up roses. March newsstand sales aren’t matching up to the magazines’ strong ad numbers, with many big titles declining more than 20 percent versus a year earlier, according to publisher-reported numbers in the Audit Bureau of Circulations' Rapid Report.

Blake Lively’s blonde tresses failed to work their magic for Elle, which was down 25 percent to 221,800 copies. Marie Claire, which chose Eva Mendes for its March cover, dropped 22.9 percent on the newsstand with 202,300 copies, while Lucky, reporting sales of 140,000 copies, saw a 20.3 percent decrease. Kim Kardashian’s ability to make tabloids fly off the newsstands didn't help Allure, whose March cover featuring the ubiquitous reality star sold just 117,495 issues, down 28 percent. 

Also down by double digits was People StyleWatch, whose sales of 435,000 copies marked a 13.6 percent year-over-year decline. Despite the debut of its flashy new redesign, featuring a larger trim size and cover girl Gwyneth Paltrow, Harper's Bazaar was also unable to increase newsstand sales, hitting 134,500 copies—a drop of 5.9 percent.  Though also down, Vogue fared slightly better. The fashion bible sold 435,000 copies of its March issue, off just 2.5 percent from the previous year. 

However, March wasn’t all gray skies for fashion titles. The month’s big winner was InStyle, which managed to sell 777,000 copies—up 16.8 percent increase—and proved that cover girl Jennifer Aniston still has a firm grasp on the title of America’s sweetheart. Also having success was Glamour, whose March issue featuring Amanda Seyfried marked the debut of the magazine’s redesign. With 436,393 copies sold, Glamour was up 1.3 percent year over year (not 9 percent as reported last week), and according to early estimates from Condé Nast, has continued to see positive growth in its April and May newsstand numbers.

Although not a major newsstand player, W magazine saw a significant bump in single copy sales this March. The oversized title, whose dual covers featured fashion icon Kate Moss, sold 28,000 copies—a more than 21 percent increase over the year prior.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.