|Audit Bureau of Circulation March 2011 audit results|
The honeymoon is over. Coming down off a Royal Wedding high, the weekly women's magazines have to contend right now with sobering data showing a category-wide 5.5% dip in sales in the year to March 2011 and a 0.5% period-on-period decline.
ACP's Grazia contributed an unsightly 17% decline, though it has somewhat stymied the downward year-on-year slide with a nominal 0.1% sales gain since December 2010, representing 77 extra copy sales and mirroring the segment's period-on-period sales rate.
Aussies reportedly spent a flabbergasting $83 million on women's weekly magazines in the three months to March 2011, amidst a climate of catastrophic flooding, earthquakes, tsunami and post-Christmas credit crunching. Clearly, post-Christmas diet crunching was still a priority.
As the royal wedding simmered, Oprah's visit (and subsequent sister revelation), Queensland Premier Anna Bligh's hero status and Nicole Kidman's surrogate baby news helped to buoy national glossip interest, but not even Shane and Liz ("Shurley") were enough to keep top-sellers Woman's Day and competitor New Idea in the black; they shaved off 5.6% and 6.6% of sales over the year respectively.
Pacific Magazines' Famous, which gives younger women the weekly scoop on the Kardashian sisters' bottom status but couldn't give a hoot about Oprah or the royal wedding, reported the biggest sales gain, representing an extra 2,222 copy sales over the year and its 10th period-on-period circulation increase, further narrowing the gap on its ACP Magazines competitor NW.
Grazia now has a new editor, Kellie Hush, at the helm, who will be working towards rectifying the situation at the fashion weekly, while the royal wedding may have just proved the fillip the segment needed to justify its existence in the new-media environment.
In the frenzied royal wedding aftermath, reprints were issued for Pacific's New Idea, which also produced one-shot wedding photo specials, and stablemate Who increased its print run by 25% and upped its book size to 156 pages to accommodate 50 pages of royal wedding news.
ACP's Woman’s Day, Grazia and OK! reported record copy sales, with Woman's Day also issuing two additional one-shot royal specials after selling an average week's circulation of its royal wedding issue (a bumper 149 pages) in just two days despite extra supplies failing to reach some newsagents.
Despite giving the weeklies three days' grace in which to savour the royal fervor, venerable flagship monthly title The Australian Women’s Weekly may have stolen the limelight with its May issue going on sale Wednesday May 4, reprinted shortly thereafter to meet demand.
"The biggest problem has been printing enough copies," said Helen McCabe, editor-in-chief of The Weekly. "This is not an issue I have ever faced before and I must say it is a great problem to have. It just goes to show that people love a good news story and especially a love story."
Alas, as we all know, it's the post-nuptial momentum that's the challenge.
See also: Will Kate and Wills save the glossy day?
Girl With a Satchel