February 24, 2012
4Q2011 and 2011 YE Sales Review

As reported in our early review a few weeks ago, 2011 proved to be a challenging year for print media. Sales continued to decline across many categories and most Classes of Trade (COT). A few major retailers made magazine fixture and placement decisions that had a huge negative impact of their sales, and less, but a significant effect on overall magazine sales. The demise of Border's, a top ten chain previously, certainly didn't help.

While the weekly/celebrity category continues to struggle, late in the fourth quarter of 2011, continuing into the first two months of 2012, MagNet, through our retailer POS data analyses, sees evidence that the sales decline for non-weekly titles is slowing.

As the category recap below reveals, there are some subject categories that are doing well. The Food/Wine category continues to be a bright spot, especially with the addition of The Food Network. Other very promising signs can be attributed to "specials" and/or "Book-A-Zines". These higher priced, top quality special editions continue to appeal to consumers. Notable are specials from Wenner Media, which increased sales in 2011 by over 1.0 million copies. Gun magazines were another surprising sub-category, with Guns Magazine and a fairly new title to the market, Garden & Guns showing double digit increases. So while overall sales were down in 2011, consumers continue to buy high quality publications that interest them. If that weren't the case, then retailers in the US and Canada wouldn't be selling over $10 million of magazines each and every day.

In the charts below, you will find a cross section of comparisons. The first two are dedicated to the 4Q2011 versus same period last year. The remaining comparison are full year comparisons, 2011 Vs. 2010.

Note: All numbers are based on "off-sale" date and are reported in millions

4th Quarter, US and Canada Sales Comparison Versus 2010 Same Period

 4Q 2011 vs 2010 US CDN
4th Q 2011 Vs. 2010 - Category Comparison  
No surprise that the "celebrity" category continues to lead the channel representing over 23% of all volume. The silver bullet in this group is once again the "Food/Wine" category. Many titles in this category posted impressive numbers and again produced positive sales as compared to last year. Other positives are the "General Interest" (primarily niche products) and the "Home" category. The Top 14 categories represent over 81% of the total. 
2011 Vs. 2010
2011 Vs 2010 Full Yr US CDN


The Top 50 are obviously dominated by weeklies, representing about 40% of the units in both draw and sales, but representing about 31% of the total retail dollars. When the weekly title sales are down significantly, it has a big impact on overall sales.

2011 Vs 2010
Class of Trade Comparison - US and Canada
2011 Vs 2010 COT Comparison 
The demise of Border's had an impact on the Bookstore COT. Sales in many COT's underperformed the average, including the important Supercenter and Bookstore groups. Unfortunately, that helped drag the overall business down.
2011 Vs 2010
Top Chains 2011 Grid and Chart

The Top 25 chains continue to represent the lion's share of the business. In 2011, the Top 10 chains were again not a surprise.  In the Top 10 were: Barnes & Noble; CVS; Hudson News-Terminals; Kroger Companies; Publix Supermarkets; Safeway Supermarkets; SuperValu; Target; Wal-Mart and Walgreens.
2011 Vs 2010 National Distributor Comparison
US and Canada
2011 ND Sales Comparison
The national distributor sales comparison is based on titles' sales that are currently billed by each company.
2011 Vs 2010
Top Publisher Comparison
US and Canada
2011 Top 15 Publishers
The Top 15 Publishers represent nearly 70% of the total volume. Leading the pack in change over last year was Rogers Publishing with a 14.4% increase and Harris Publications, which also posted a slight net increase over 2010. 

MagNet has detailed analyses of retail magazine sales over the last five years. Should you be interested in a more detailed look or require additional information please feel free to send your questions to at your convenience.

Note: Sales are reported from wholesaler OR figures based on off-sale dates in the year 2010 and 2011