Yes, there are real bright spots on the newsstand.
Based on sales data to date, Comag Marketing Group’s early estimate is that the magazine category’s total dollar sales for May were up by roughly 1%, according to Jay Felts, president of CMG and chairman of IPDA prior to its just-completed merger with PBAA. (See merger story this issue.)
During opening remarks at the Magazines at Retail conference, Felts noted that this would mark the first industrywide positive dollar sales performance in about two years.
He said that May’s performance reflected the huge success of specials and regular issues of magazines devoted to tributes to Prince. (A Time Inc. exec noted during the conference that People’s issue commemorating Prince looks on track to sell as many as a million copies.)
Felts also pointed to the ongoing sales strength of adult coloring books—and further noted that the category’s sales trends have been improving for some months now. Numerous specials and tribute issues for Mohammed Ali are also expected to drive a wave of newsstand sales, he added.
Will Michalopoulos, senior director, retail sales at Hearst Magazines and chairman of PBAA until the merger, added that Hearst has ample evidence that innovative thinking and a willingness to invest in tests and new initiatives pays off at the newsstand.
He cited successful examples including Hearst’s multi-packs of magazines, packaging Oprah Winfrey’s three-CD self-help audio book with an issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, and offering heirloom tomato seeds as a premium polybagged with Country Living, among others.