It might be easy to think that the magazine industry is finally out of the gutter--what with ad pages on the rise and September 2012 seeing some of the biggest issues ever--but as recent newsstand reports show, the industry is far from recovered.
Newsstand sales for the first half of 2012 fell pretty much across all titles, with some glossies taking a double-digit dive, WWD is reporting. The figures for the Conde Nast titles were provided by the company in an audited report, while the numbers for Hearst were taken from the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Rapid Report, since the publishing company declined to release numbers.
Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Lucky and Allure were some of the worst hit. According to audited numbers released by Conde Nast, Vogue's newsstand sales fell 16.5 percent; Vanity Fair, 18.8 percent; Lucky, 15.5 percent and Allure, 19 percent. Hearst's Elle slid a whopping 20 percent.
There were a few "bright spots" as WWD tactfully calls them, but even those titles that were lucky enough not take double-digit slides did not see an increase in sales. Marie Claire and Harper's Bazaar reported a flat period compared with last year, while over at Conde Nast, Glamour fell 6.8 percent and W fell only 2.2 percent. While InStyle was down 4.5 percent, with an average of 545,000 copies this period on newsstand, the magazine still managed to sell more than Vogue and Elle combined.
It's a sad state of affairs when the leaders in the industry are those that reported flat or only single digit dips in sales--but as some in the industry have pointed out, newsstand sales may be sort of besides the point now. “Newsstand is not the barometer of vitality anymore,” Robin Steinberg, executive vice president, director of publishing investment and activation at MediaVest USA told the trade. "It’s an overall brand evaluation. Not the brand in silos but the goal of how a brand does on multiple platforms."
And as digital readership goes up, newsstands may not give an accurate picture anymore. "In the overall picture, total readership is going up," Monica Ray, executive vice president for consumer marketing at Condé Nast said. "We’ve had nice gains in subscriptions."
"But," she added, "newsstand is still really important to us."