Cooking, gardening and children’s learning magazines continued to be among the biggest circulation winners from the Covid-19 pandemic in the first half of 2021, when the UK was in lockdown.
The biggest annual growth among adult magazines was at Garden Answers, which saw its average circulation grow by 38% to 70,391 in January to June, and BBC Gardeners’ World, which grew by 36% to 301,026 copies over the same period and remains the UK’s biggest gardening magazine.
The growth trend for gardening magazines was particularly apparent for subscriptions. Immediate Media’s BBC Gardeners’ World title grew subscriptions by 53% year-on-year to 219,543, while newsstand sales stayed steady.
Scroll down to see full magazine ABC figures for January to June 2021
At Bauer’s monthly Garden Answers, subscriptions grew by 62% to 55,171 over the six-month period. Newsstand sales were down 10% to 15,102.
Meanwhile at sister weekly title Garden News total circulation was up by 15% to 43,507. This included subscription growth of 32% to 19,685 and newsstand sales up 3% to 23,519.
Chris Kerwin, Immediate group managing director, said: “For the market leading gardening magazine BBC Gardeners’ World to have grown at 36% year-on-year to again reach a circulation of over 300,000 copies is extraordinary and testament to all the hard work of the team throughout the pandemic.
“The May issue remains one of the most important moments every year on the magazine newsstand and our subscriptions growth has been stellar. Add to that the digital growth we’ve seen in the same period shows that BBC Gardeners’ World really is a brand that is firing on all cylinders.”
Food titles are also among the specialist titles doing well, with Immediate’s Olive and BBC Good Food growing by 24% and 23% respectively.
BBC Good Food commercial director Simon Carrington said: “We’ve listened to our audience and adapted the magazine to suit the changing needs of the reader and delighted that sales have grown accordingly.”
He added that Olive was relaunched in January to have “an elegant look with a real focus on everyday food and lifestyle content”.
“The fact that our ABC has grown period-on-period as well as year-on-year just shows how well received the changes have been received by existing and new readers,” he said.
Immediate’s BBC Home Cooking Series magazine also grew by 15% to 21,489 from January to June.
The biggest ABC circulation growth was at Fun to Learn – Friends, which was up by 44% to 51,618. Sister title Fun to Learn – Peppa Pig grew by 29% to 55,709.
For older children, Dennis title The Week Junior continued its strong upwards trend, growing by 18% to 100,916.
Its sister title The Week Junior Science and Nature, which launched in 2018, posted its first ABC figure of 30,057.
The Week Junior editorial director Anna Bassi said: “We strive to provide children with magazines that they genuinely love to read, and seeing strong results like this shows that the hard work of our talented editorial team is paying off.”
News and current affairs magazines
Adult sister title The Week saw its print circulation fall by 3% to 132,143 and its digital circulation down by 6% to 28,843.
The Economist conversely grew its digital publication by almost a third to 964,518 although its print circulation fell by a quarter to 693,255.
Private Eye grew sales by 3% to 237,338. Within this subscriptions grew by 11% to 174,927 while newsstand sales fell by 16% to 60,984.
The Spectator is no longer audited bi-annually by ABC but shared its own figures on Thursday. It said sales were up 27% to reach 105,850, the highest in its 193-year history. Even without digital, print is at an all-time high of 77,675 sales, it said.
Women’s and lifestyle titles
The Evening Standard’s ES Magazine, which is entirely distributed for free in London, dropped its distribution by 42% to 180,101.
Of mostly paid-for titles, the biggest fall in circulation was at Slimming World Magazine, down by 34% to 287,208. Bauer’s Closer fell by a fifth to 97,424.
Bauer also reported declines at other women’s titles such as Yours, down by 7% to 175,500, Bella, also down by 7% to 127,781, and Heat, down by 11% to 70,010.
However the fortnightly Grazia was up by 7% to 86,413
Bauer said an uplift in its subscriptions and digital circulations reflected trends seen across the industry since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chris Duncan, Bauer’s chief executive of UK publishing, said: “We’re pleased to see a strong competitive performance and a continued upward trend in subscriptions and in digital circulation.
“This reflects not only the consumer trends accelerated by the pandemic but the work we’ve undertaken to bring our long-term strategy to life and our continued investment in editorial excellence.”
Most magazines are audited by ABC each full year, so the latest list features fewer publications than the bigger round-up each February.
Year-on-year % change figures were not available for some publications if they chose to report differently in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Magazine circulations for the six months to the end of June 2021 via ABC:
|Publication||Owner||ABC Total (avg per issue)||Year-on-year % change||Free copies|
|Tesco Magazine||Cedar Comms Limited||1,941,887||0%||1,941,887|
|TV Choice||Bauer Media||1,035,403||0%|
|The Economist – Digital Publication||The Economist Newspaper Ltd||964,518||30%|
|The Economist – Print publication||The Economist Newspaper Ltd||693,255||-24%|
|Waitrose & Partners Food||John Brown||678,737||3%||678,737|
|Radio Times||Immediate Media Company||461,164||-2%|
|Stylist||The Stylist Group Ltd||403,604||0%||397,035|
|Take a Break||Bauer Media||337,688||-12%|
|Time Out||Time Out Magazine Ltd||310,450||0%||310,450|
|BBC Gardeners’ World||Immediate Media Company||301,026||36%|
|Slimming World Magazine||Miles-Bramwell Executive Services Ltd||287,208||-34%||52,239|
|Saga Magazine||Saga Publishing Ltd||242,944||10%||36,139|
|Private Eye||Pressdram Ltd||237,338||3%|
|BBC Good Food||Immediate Media Company||194,471||23%|
|ES Magazine||Evening Standard Limited||180,101||-42%||180,101|
|Take a Break Monthly||Bauer Media||159,859||-9%|
|The People’s Friend||DC Thomson Media||147,324|
|That’s Life||Bauer Media||141,933||-13%|
|The Week – Print||Dennis Publishing Limited||132,143||-3%||4,554|
|Sainsbury’s Magazine||Seven C3||102,822||15,437|
|National Geographic Magazine||National Geographic Partners||102,503||5%||359|
|The Week Junior||Dennis Publishing Limited||100,916||18%||5,861|
|Total TV Guide||Bauer Media||78,732||-6%|
|My Weekly||DC Thomson Media||71,949||2,279|
|Garden Answers||Bauer Media||70,391||38%||118|
|Peppa Pig Bag-o-Fun||Redan Publishing Ltd||68,980||17%|
|Love It!||ACH Publishing||62,187||-9%|
|Fun to Learn – Peppa Pig||Redan Publishing Ltd||55,709||29%|
|The Beano||DC Thomson Media||54,800||900|
|delicious||Eye to Eye Media Ltd||52,556||0%|
|Fun to Learn – Friends||Redan Publishing Ltd||51,618||44%|
|The Oldie||Oldie Publications Ltd||49,181||4%||2|
|Sparkle World||Redan Publishing Ltd||47,008||24%|
|Garden News||Bauer Media||43,507||15%||303|
|Olive||Immediate Media Company||42,325||24%|
|The Week Junior Science and Nature||Dennis Publishing Limited||30,057||702|
|Fun to Learn – Favourites||Redan Publishing Ltd||29,520||7%|
|MoneyWeek – Print||Dennis Publishing Limited||29,045||2%||1,912|
|The Week – Digital||Dennis Publishing Limited||28,843||-6%|
|MoneyWeek – Digital||Dennis Publishing Limited||25,833|
|BBC Easy Cook||Immediate Media Company||25,100||4%|
|BBC Home Cooking Series||Immediate Media Company||21,489||15%|