Canadian Magazine Industry News
15 August 2012,     TORONTO
Canada still outshining U.S. at newsstand: PBAA speakers
Yes, magazine sales at the newsstand are going down.

But magazines are not alone.

Take for example what is happening in American supermarkets — staples like vegetables have slipped 8.2% in unit sales, fresh bread is down 5.2%, and even milk is down more than 5%. (Meanwhile, U.S. supermarket-bought cocktails/coolers are up 63.8%, and sleeping remedies are up more than 22%.)

That being said, the dip in single-copy sales is nothing to lose sleep about, so no need for those sleep remedies. Or cocktails, for that matter. (At least not in excess, anyway.)

That was a bit of insight provided by Glenn Morgan, president and chief executive officer of Coast to Coast Newsstand Services during his talk at PBAA Canada at Old Mill in Toronto.

Glenn Morgan of Coast to Coast addresses crowd at PBAA Canada
Glenn Morgan of Coast to Coast addresses crowd at PBAA Canada


The latest sales trends according to MagNet (the U.S.-based information network, not the annual Canadian magazine conference) indicate Canada is down -6.5% in units sold in the first half of 2012 (Morgan pointed out many French language products are not accounted for by MagNet). Auditor ABC's report of the first six months this year shows a slide of 1.6% in Canadian single copy sales.

But the outlook is rosier than for our southern neighbour, which saw a 9.2% drop in unit sales, Morgan pointed out. "A constant is that Canada is faring better than the U.S.," he said. "We've really only really seen newsstand reductions in the last four years."

Canada's share of total magazine sales is disproportionately high based on population — while we're about 10% of the U.S. population, we have 12.7% of total unit sales (15.8% of English-language titles are Canadian-produced), and 8 of 25 of the top selling titles are published in Canada, said Morgan.

Newsstand sales aside, paid subscriptions are actually doing quite well; Morgan said paid subs have actually grown 1.1% in North America. "Subscriptions have not been dropping as fast as newsstand," he said. "Print is dead? People are not reading? These numbers take away from those statements."

Speaking of supermarkets, they're still the top venue for selling magazines (30.7% of market share in 2011), according to data presented by Tom Worsley, general manager of Retail Support Services.

But the supermarkets' share has dropped slightly since 2008, with drug stores making a gain in market share in the same period (17% of market share in 2011) on the strength of Shoppers Drug Mart, noted Worsley.

The top five magazine titles had 15.1% retail market share in 2009 compared to 16.4% in 2011, while the top 50 titles were pegged at 52.2% and 52.7% respectively (People magazine was tops from 2009-2011). 

Those last statistics seem to follow a statement made at the conference by Steve Maich, publisher and editor-in-chief of Sportsnet, a relatively new Rogers print title (that was nominated for magazine of the year only a short time into its life): "Yes, some magazines will die, but the great ones are still growing. You can still launch an ambitious print magazine in today's climate."
— Jeff Hayward
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