Magazine sector holds up in face of downturn

The latest ABC figures show the magazine sector is holding up overall during the recession.

The Economist
The Economist: Specialist titles that inform consumers fared best

The sector had been bracing itself for far worse figures and several commentators say the relatively small decline in readership is a good indication that the market is resilient.

The overall market dropped 1.9% for the January to June period, according to the ABC data, although individual sectors, such as men’s lifestyle, experienced much greater falls.

Periodical Publishers Association chief executive Jonathan Shepherd says: “It’s no surprise in a recessionary climate that different sectors are performing in different ways.”

“An overall percentage fall of less than 2% testifies to the strong relationship that magazines have with their readers.”

Media buyers say consumers appear to be changing the kinds of titles they buy. The trend is away from generalist titles to more specialist publications. Publications that have a distinct purpose and provide consumers with some form of knowledge fared best in the circulation figures.

“People don’t want generalist titles,” says The7Stars head of press Liam Mullins. “People are thinking twice before they shell out, and if they are going to spend £3.50 on a magazine, they want it to be specialist.”

An explosion of curiosity about finance and business, as consumers seek awareness about the current economic situation, has also led to a rise in circulation figures for specialist business titles, according to Mullins.

MoneyWeek increased its circulation by 15.3% over the past 12 months, and readership of The Economist (UK edition) grew 2.6% to 187,341.
Weekly news title The Week, which offers a weekly round-up of news and current affairs issues, has forged ahead with a 10.3% rise this year to 165,609.

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