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June 21, 2021

Publishing News

Economist Group's Fiscal Operating Profit Up 27%
Release: The Economist Group's just released annual report for fiscal year 2020/21 shows the year ended with an operating profit of £41.8M, up £8.9M or 27% on last year, "exceeding expectations and putting The Economist Group in a strong position to pursue long-term profitable growth. The Economist saw record subscriber growth, which climbed by 90,0000 or 9% over fiscal-year 2020 to 1,122,000, the largest-ever increase in a single year. It also boosted trial conversions and one-year retention rates. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) saw a notable 44% uplift in new business. Economist Events quickly pivoted to virtual platforms, holding a record 171 events, with 70,000 attendees and more than 300 sponsors"... Initiatives during the year included: "a suite of new products... A new podcast, The Jab, analyzed the global vaccine roll-out; digital newsletters, such as Simply Science and Off the Charts, expanded The Economist's footprint in areas of reader interest; interactive data journalism covered many unreported aspects of the pandemic and forecasts of the US election; a subscriber-only content program included a webinar series with editors and world leaders such as Bill Gates, Ursula Burns and Christine Lagarde to discuss critical global issues... a redesign of the homepage and upgrades to the Espresso app... a new Future Customer Experience platform... The EIU launched "EIU Viewpoint", a digital product combining the EIU's expert political and economic insights with economic forecasts and proprietary data. The new B2B subscription platform helps businesses, academics, governments and financial institutions stay abreast of shifting global dynamics and plan for the future... Economist Education, a new online executive-education offering"...

Vanity Fair Launches Awards Vertical
Adweek: "he Condé Nast title has set its sights on Hollywood, expanding its coverage of industry news, the awards season, industry intel and campaigns with its latest vertical, Awards Insider. The site subsection has three dedicated staffers. The vertical, aimed at Hollywood’s inner circle and awards voters, is a fertile topic to mine from as the industry undergoes “transformational change,” especially since new audience behavior post-pandemic is upending box-office releases, forcing people to figure out new measures of success. Awards Insider will feature gossip, news and trends, including the need for more diversity in the industry, the growing shifts in power, pandemic rebounds, casting, finance and the controversial simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases. Vanity Fair will publish roughly 12 Awards Insider stories per week, that number will fluctuate during awards season... Along with a dedicated weekly newsletter, Awards Insider will also publish across digital, on social platforms, audio and print. Vanity Fair has hired former The Hollywood Reporter awards editor Rebecca Ford as senior awards correspondent, and Entertainment Weekly’s David Canfield as staff writer. Vanity Fair’s Katey Rich has been appointed awards and audio editor. All three report to executive Hollywood editor, Jeff Giles. The wider editorial team will also contribute content. The title has some evidence readers are hungry for more on these topics. Awards Insider will live within Vanity Fair’s HWD section, which covers celebrities, film and TV...Outside of digital content, TV-focused podcast Still Watching, started in 2019, where hosts dissect the latest shows like Loki and WandaVision, has had a more-than 80% increase in downloads year-over-year, the publisher said. At this year’s Upfronts, the publisher stressed the importance of its live programming around tentpole events like the Oscars... Vanity Fair’s monthly site traffic was up 20% in the first quarter of 2021, according to the publisher’s internal analytics. It attributes this to an unprecedented awards season. Industry-specific coverage saw 38% higher time-spent than the site-wide average, the publisher wouldn’t share specifics. In January, Vanity Fair has 34.1M global monthly uniques. according to Comscore. For April, it’s dipped to 30.3M"...
Adweek (paywall)

May Ad Surge Doesn't Help Magazines
MediaPost: "U.S. ad spending continued to rebound in May, according to a new, enriched database from Standard Media Index... The new data, meanwhile, shows the U.S. ad market surged 56% in May, following a 53% gain in April and a 22% increase in March, which was the first to show a year-over-year rebound from the pandemic-influenced advertising recession, which began a year earlier. The data also reveals most media have benefitted from the rebound, with the exception of consumer magazines, which remained in decline in May (-21% YoY), although another print medium, newspapers, have been on the rise since April.The biggest resurgence, however, has been to media expected to benefit from the resumption of out-of-home behavior changes among U.S. consumers -- out-of-home advertising and radio"...

Janet Malcolm, Famed New Yorker Writer, Dies at 86
AP: "Janet Malcolm, the inquisitive and boldly subjective author and reporter known for her challenging critiques of everything from murder cases and art to journalism itself, has died. She was 86... A longtime New Yorker staff writer and the author of several books, the Prague native practiced a kind of post-modern style in which she often called attention to her own role in the narrative, questioning whether even the most conscientious observer could be trusted"... “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible” was how she began “The Journalist and the Murderer"... New Yorker editor David Remnick praised Malcolm as a “master of nonfiction writing” and cited her willingness to take on her peers... Malcolm’s honors included a PEN award for biography in 2008 for “Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice” and a nomination in 2014 from the National Book Critics Circle for “Forty-One False Starts.” In 1999, the Modern Library ranked “The Journalist and the Murderer”... No. 97 on its list of the 100 best nonfiction releases of the 20th century"...

Rolling Stone Offers Billie Eilish Boxed Set
WWD: Rolling Stone is marketing a boxed set that includes a copy of the July print issue with Billie Eilish on the cover, a 20-page photo zine of never-before-seen images and one exclusive photo print. The box set is available for $54.99 on Rolling Stone’s shopping web site.


Retail News

Ecommerce Grocery Down 16% in May
Grocery Dive: "Grocery e-commerce sales totaled $7B in May, down 16% from a year ago, according to the latest e-commerce report from Brick Meets Click and Mercatus. The weighted average order value for the month dipped 7% YoY, with delivery and pickup spending per order dropping 14%, to $77, while ship-to-home order value increased 4%, to $50. Consumers’ expectations for grocery shopping are being influenced by comparable services at mass retailers as cross-shopping picks up, the study found. Twenty-nine percent of online customers used both grocery and mass retail services in May, compared to 15% in August 2019. May’s e-commerce sales came up against a steep comparison to the same period last year, when consumers were ordering online en masse in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, making the 16% sales drop less of an alarming figure in context, according to Brick Meets Click partner David Bishop. The $7B in total online sales for May, he noted, is 3.5 times higher than the pre-pandemic level of $2B Brick Meets Click measured in August 2019. “May’s results show the market retains 70% of the incremental gains generated versus the record COVID high of $9.3B, illustrating that much of the gain propelled by the pandemic has stuck around,” Bishop said in the announcement of the report’s findings. When looking at e-commerce’s performance so far this year, sales have exhibited “choppiness” as consumers get vaccinated and return to in-store shopping. Online sales hit $9.3B in both January and March, while May signaled the first time monthly online sales have dropped two months in a row this year, with returns down from $8.4B in April"...

FMI: At-Home Eating Increase to Continue
Grocery Dive: "Consumers are placing growing importance on at-home eating, with 41% of participants in a survey conducted by the Food Industry Association (FMI) indicating they intend to prepare more meals at home going forward than they did before the onset of the pandemic. 49% of grocery shoppers who participated in FMI's 2021 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends survey are putting more emphasis on selecting nutritious foods now than prior to the public health crisis.?.. Among the key findings: Shoppers are placing more emphasis on eating with family members than they did before. 34% consider eating with their family extremely important, six percentage points higher than a year ago. Just 13% said eating with family members is not important. Nearly two-thirds said responsibility for ensuring the foods they buy in grocery stores are nutritious rests on "myself as an individual," while 42% said the FDA bears that responsibility and 38% said it belongs to the USDA. Just under a third of consumers said grocery stores bear responsibility for providing them with nutritious foods. Almost half said they're cooking more than before the pandemic, with 44% liking or loving doing so. 32% said they've become more skilled at cooking healthy meals during the crisis... In a potentially worrisome sign for food retailers, just 45% of survey respondents said they trust "food stores in general" to help them stay healthy, and only 35% have that opinion about online-centric grocers. Those figures are well below the 65% of people who look to doctors to guide them when deciding what foods to buy. Three-quarters said they're using online tools to discern details about products when making e-commerce purchases. 58% still said they could be somewhat or a lot healthier. Still, the percentage of survey respondents who believe their eating habits are "healthy enough” or "as healthy as possible” has risen by 14 percentage points over the past year, to 41%"...

Albertsons to Bow DoorDash Delivery at Nearly 2K Stores
SN: "In line with a plan to step up use of third-party delivery, Albertsons Cos. has tapped DoorDash to provide last-mile grocery delivery from almost 2,000 stores. San Francisco-based DoorDash said Monday that, under the partnership, Albertsons will sell more than 40,000 products for delivery via the DoorDash online marketplace and app, including fresh and prepared foods, grocery, floral and convenience items from participating stores. In selected markets, customers also will be able to order groceries through their local Albertsons Cos. store’s website for same-day delivery through DoorDash Drive, DoorDash’s white-label fulfillment platform that enables direct delivery for businesses... Overall, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. operates 2,277 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 retail banners, such as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market... Albertsons Cos. customers can now order groceries and daily essentials for delivery within an hour with no time slot, queues or minimum order size required, according to DoorDash. All Albertsons stores will be available on DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription program that offers members unlimited free delivery and reduced service fees on eligible orders of $25 or more, including from Albertsons and thousands of other grocery and convenience stores and restaurants nationwide"...

Workers Leaving Retail at Unprecedented Rate
WaPo: "Retail workers, drained from the pandemic and empowered by a strengthening job market, are leaving jobs like never before. Americans are ditching their jobs by the millions, and retail is leading the way with the largest increase in resignations of any sector. Some 649,000 retail workers put in their notice in April, the industry’s largest one-month exodus since the Labor Department began tracking such data more than 20 years ago"...
RetailWire (paywall)

Hy-Vee Launches Financial Services
Grocery Dive: "Hy-Vee has started offering financial services including checking and savings accounts; car, home and pet insurance; and home and consumer loans through a program launched in conjunction with Midwest Heritage, a bank owned by the grocery chain, according to a press release. The program, which is branded as Hy-Vee Financial Services, also offers benefits such as savings on mortgage and pet insurance to members of the supermarket chain's Fuel Saver + Perks and Hy-Vee Plus loyalty programs. Hy-Vee has worked over the past year to expand the range of services it offers shoppers as it looks to deepen its connections with its customer base"...


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