As the following charts illustrate, the decline in sales in the first quarter, 2013 was both disappointing and startling, as the industry hasn't seen such sales losses when comparing quarterly sales year to previous year since the first quarter of 2009 when Anderson News Company exited the business. As we detail under the Top 1000 title comparison chart below, besides the group of the top fifty titles and the set of small titles ranked in sales lower than 1000, the rest of the business was actually pretty resilient.
However, we did find some extenuating circumstances when we analyzed the numbers. The largest contributing factor was that several of the major weekly titles ranked in the top fifty had only twelve issues in the first quarter, 2013, compared to the thirteen issues distributed in the same period, 2012.
We have included a chart that provides the adjusted sales for the weekly titles on an average sale per issue basis. That improved the sales picture for the weekly titles in the US and Canada considerably, even though weekly title sales are still down compared to last year, same period. The dollar sales decline improves to -11.7%, nearly 8.6 percentage points better. The unit sales decline, using average sales per issue, improve to -14.1%, an improvement of over 7.5 percentage points.
Another contributing factor was the number of titles/issues released in the first quarter, 2013. There were 975 fewer titles/issues released than were distributed in the same period, 2012, a 6.3% reduction. Nearly all of those were non-weekly titles, a group that had improved their collective performance in the latter stages of 2012. The fewer number of releases contributed to the non-weekly title decline in the first quarter, 2013.
While overall industry sales continued to trend lower, there were several titles in the top 100 that performed well with the same number of releases in both periods. Following are a few of the titles that posted increases in the first quarter: FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE +21.8%; PEOPLE STYLE WATCH +46.3%; WOMAN'S DAY +29.9%, SHAPE +12.4%; GQ +14.9% and MEN'S FITNESS +10.6%.
As we have mentioned in past newsletters, MagNet reports sales based on off-sale date for titles and issues, so that we can attempt to ensure that all returns have flowed through the system, and that we are reporting final sales in our analyses.