Listings figures fall despite a sector shake up

By Alyson Fixter

Britain’s biggest-selling women’s glossy, Glamour, has seen its first decisive sales drop since launch in a difficult period for the market, but editor Jo Elvin has promised the magazine will ride out the current trend for "throwaway" weeklies.

The Condé Nast title, which rocked the magazine world five years ago as the first "handbag-sized" glossy, lost nearly 35,000 readers between January and December last year, while rivals Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Company and New Woman all also lost sales.

While Glamour editor Elvin said she was "comfortable" with the figure, a drop of 5.5 per cent, New Woman publisher Emap and Company publisher NatMags are unlikely to be satisfied with the performances of their glossies, which lost 17.6 per cent and 14.8 per cent of their readers, respectively.

Elvin said: "Having sold over 32 million copies of Glamour to date as we approach our fifth birthday, and easily retaining our position as the number one best-selling glossy monthly, is not giving me cause for concern.

"Inevitably the new weekly titles have attracted passing attention, but I do think there is a worrying lack of differentiation which will lead to a reversal of fortunes, highlighting the throwaway nature of this sector, unless addressed."

An industry source said big retailers had expressed concerns that the weekly market could already be reaching its peak, following a reported downturn in sales just before Christmas.

Meanwhile, publishers can take comfort from the performances of their older women’s titles, which have proved they have a readership not so easily seduced by the lure of the Day-Glo weeklies.

Easy Living, sister title to Glamour, showed a sales rise of 6.5 per cent in six months, a year on from launch; Good Housekeeping, stablemate of Company, was up 7.7 per cent year on year, putting on 33,000 readers; and Marie Claire’s sister title, Woman & Home, grew its circulation by 1 per cent for IPC.

Elsewhere, Emap’s one-year-old weekly glossy Grazia put in a 10.1 per cent sales rise in six months, and Hachette’s new launch, Psychologies, achieved an on-target first ABC of 96,012.

Liz Kershaw, publisher of Good Housekeeping, said: "Good Housekeeping knows exactly what it is and hasn’t had to get readers by putting three-bedroomed houses or £20 notes on the cover or whatever covermounts some magazines have.

"It always amuses me that they won’t have anything except Gucci and Prada inside but on the cover they’ve got a pair of flip-flops worth 1p.

"Good Housekeeping has a great editorial team and we’ve been consistent with the editorial package."

Sue James, editorial director of Woman & Home, said: "The 35-plus glossy women’s monthly market is vibrant and the place to be.

"Woman & Home has shown again that it’s a real star performer within this sector, capturing the mood of what grown up women want — identification, inspiration and wellbeing all wrapped up in a stylish package."

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