NEW YORK–U.S. magazine sales at newsstands and other retailers dropped 10 percent in the second half of 2011, a sign that Americans are still careful about discretionary spending and impulse purchases.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations said Tuesday that overall circulation including subscriptions was down just 1 percent. But the decline in single-copy sales is a troubling sign for publishers. That’s because they make more money from retail sales than from subscriptions, which are sold at a discount so publishers can increase circulation and attract advertisers.
The industry group said single-copy magazine sales totaled 28.9 million in the last six months of 2011. That’s down from 32.1 million in the same period in 2010. It’s slightly bigger than the 9 percent decline seen in the first half of the year.
Total circulation, which includes digital sales such as issues sold on the iPad, was 302 million, down from 306 million in the second half of 2010.
Paid subscriptions grew less than 1 percent to 262 million from 261 million.
Cosmopolitan was still the top-selling magazine at newsstands, even though its sales declined nearly 7 percent compared with a year earlier, selling 1.5 million copies. Woman’s World took the No. 2 spot with 1.2 million copies sold, down 8 percent. People came in at No. 3, selling 1.1 million copies, a 12-percent decline.
The magazine with the largest overall circulation was AARP the Magazine, with 22.4 million copies, down 6 percent from a year earlier.
Among the most popular magazines at retailers, Food Network Magazine saw the biggest increase in single-copy sales, up more than 16 percent to about 438,000. Single-copy sales of O, The Oprah Magazine, fell 32 percent to about 413,000. Oprah Winfrey ended her long-running TV talk show last May.