British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (July – December 2019) – Good News, at least, for Beano, again

Some of the wide range of comic and young people's titles on sale in Sainsbury's, Lancaster in February 2020, including market leaders Beano and Pokemon

Some of the wide range of comic and young people’s titles on sale in Sainsbury’s, Lancaster in February 2020, including market leaders Beano and Pokemon

The latest reported ABC Magazine Sales Figures, which include news stand sales of British comics and young people’s magazines, probably don’t make for great reading for many publishers – those that report them that is. Although Beano Studios and DC Thomson Media should deservedly be celebrating another upswing in sales for the weekly comic, it’s one of very few titles in the sector to see any rise in figures, which make for grim reading.

We’ve updated our spreadsheet of sales figures we think will most interest downthetubes readers here. These figures, which we’ve been compiling since 2006, combine print circulation with digital edition and subscription sales.

A list of all current titles on sale or offered to newsagents, based on information provided to retailers, features below.

Although worldwide, the youth sector remains a continued strong publishing sector, second only to puzzle magazines, like magazine sales figures in general over the past few years, many publishers have again clearly taken a hit in terms of news stand and subscription sales figures. Digital sales are still failing to fill the gap, although that revenue stream is growing for some.

The Phoenix gets a prime position in Sainsbury's, Lancaster

The Phoenix gets a prime position in Sainsbury’s, Lancaster

In its report on sliding sales, Campaign notes media buyers are saying magazine publishers must focus on capturing audiences on diverse platforms while pushing quality journalism. The report notes that overall a downward trend in circulation continued in the six months to the end of December 2019, with the average actively purchased copies recorded by the top 50 magazines failing to recover lost ground.

Overall, total average actively purchased circulation of the Top 50 actively purchased titles fell to 9.3 million in July-December 2019 from 9.6 million in the first half of the year, following a dramatic slide from 10.6 million in the first half of 2018 and 10.3 million in the second half of that year.

Despite the grim figures, with no younger or teen reader title listed in Campaign‘s Top 50 of UK magazine sales and, it appears, little staying power for relatively recent launches, publishers remain understandably bullish in the face of the figures

In its publisher statement, Immediate Media, publishers of Go Jetters, MEGA and more noted its ABC-audited print circulation, which includes its many magazine titles such as Radio Times, is 2,330,251, an increase of 29% period-on-period and 1% year-on-year. The company’s ABC-audited digital circulation recorded a total circulation of 63,021, up 291% period-on-period, and with 957k subscribers, Immediate remains the leading magazine publishing company for subscriptions.

Immediate Media  says it remains the number one publisher in the UK Children’s market, “reflecting the strength of its titles and breadth of portfolio”, with a combined ABC circulation of 871,900 up 16% year-on-year and 26% period-on-period. Highlights include Girl Talk, posting an ABC of 36,379 up 11.2% period-on-period and up 1.05% year-on-year, and Pokémon up 19.7% year-on-year to 42,348.

VIZ 293Dennis Publishing highlighted sales figures for VIZ, 44,562 combined, as the title celebrated its 40th anniversary year with the focus strongly on driving new subscriptions via social channels, reigniting the passion for the popular brand.

“We have a set of solid results with the focus on subscriptions particularly delivering strong numbers,” commented Dharmesh Mistry, Managing Director, Specialist Division.

“With a clear subscriptions strategy and numerous plans for building out brands outside traditional channels, our special interest brands are being set up for continued success.”

The Week Junior, also published by Dennis Publishing, grew by 19 per cent year-on-year to 69,200 between July and December, new ABC figures show, although its sister title The Week fell by six per cent to 135,204.

All publishers now see subscription sales as far more important than they were some years ago; Beano subscriptions were once practically non existent, but strong brand management by Beano Studios, and a successful TV presence thanks to the Dennis show have helped boost subscriber numbers.

Anecdotal evidence suggests longer, film and TV-inspired strips has also helped both retain and grow older readership in the 10 – 15 age group, outside the title’s normal target audience.

Despite the declines in news stand sales for many titles, leading  retailer WHSmith still plays a vital element in a title’s ongoing success – and continues to profit from its high street presence, for all its bizarre decision making in terms of magazine display.

Quite why weekly titles like 2000AD are hidden from sight in some stores, for example when the window of sale is so small remains a complete mystery.

While in some stores it seems comics have been edged out in favour of other sectors, in other stores WHSmith appears to be taking note of concerns raised by customers about their shelving decisions, and in Kendal, for example, the store there has had a welcome revamp – and now presents magazines on larger shelves, making them much easier to find than the cramped space they had before.

Young children's titles on sale in WHSmith Lancaster were squeezed for space back in January, with puzzle magazines - the leading publishing sector - taking precedence on the shelf

Young children’s titles on sale in WHSmith Lancaster were squeezed for space back in January, with puzzle magazines – the leading publishing sector – taking precedence on the shelf

Good news for shoppers in WHSmith Kendal, where a store revamp has wisely given more space to magazines and comics - a welcome improvement

Good news for shoppers in WHSmith Kendal, where a store revamp has wisely given more space to magazines and comics - a welcome improvement

Good news for shoppers in WHSmith Kendal, where a store revamp has wisely given more space to magazines and comics – a welcome improvement

The retailer’s position is still strong enough to use its still important sales power in negotiations with publishers by moving titles wholesale from one section to another, in the recent case of the Telegraph newspaper for example, apparently to secure a good distribution deal with its publisher.

Despite lower sales for many, it does appear successful publishers, sent reeling by magazine sales decline in recent years, have spent a lot of time adapting and evolving their sales and marketing models to adjust to a now pretty difficult environment, not helped by the overall decline in high street shopping across the board.

Please note that as stated in the past, many comics and children’s magazines publishers do not report their sales figures publicly, so sales figures for titles such as 2000AD, Commando, The Phoenix and TOXIC are not available. It is however good to note that some titles are once again ABC registered, after a fall off in reporting over the past few years.

We have previously suggested that the value of registration, long used as a guide by advertisers on placement decisions, is outweighed by the cost as sales fall.

As we have mentioned in previous reports, the growing number of advertisements no longer acceptable in titles aimed at children, there seems to be very little of it. Long gone are the days when you could plug a new chocolate bar, ice cream or sugary cereal in a comic – and gone with it is that revenue stream, leaving publishers are far more dependent on cover price and subscriptions to generate revenue.

There’s a list of every comic and children’s magazine currently on sale in newsagents below.

This list is via the National Title File which provides publication information to newsagents and distributors – and the publications are listed in the categories they set.

It should also be noted that the NTF list sometimes still includes some “legacy” titles no longer published. This previously happened with Panini’s Doctor Who Adventures which was still listed for some months as an active title, despite its cancellation.

• View our spreadsheet of ABC figures here (2006 – 2019)

• Having trouble finding your favourite title? Newsstand.co.uk offers over 4000 UK titles: www.newsstand.co.uk

This small McColls in Skerton, Lancaster, makes as much use as possible despite small space to promote the range of young children's titles it sells, including Doctor Who - Tales from the TARDIS

This small McColls in Skerton, Lancaster, makes as much use as possible despite small space to promote the range of young children’s titles it sells, including Doctor Who – Tales from the TARDIS

CHILDREN’S MAGAZINES – TITLES ON SALE FEBRUARY 2020

Headings are those allocated by the National File Title

This list is via the National Title File which provides publication information to newsagents and distributors – and the publications are listed in the categories they set.

Please note that the NTF list does occasionally include some “legacy” titles no longer published. These take a while to disappear from the system

This previously happened with Panini’s Doctor Who Adventures which was still listed for some months as an active title, despite its cancellation.

Teenage Comics

2000AD 21682000AD
Astonishing Spider-Man
Avengers Universe
Commando – Sold In As Four Separate Titles
Deadpool Unleashed
Doctor Who – Tales From The Tardis
Essential X-Men
I Love
Judge Dredd Megazine
Marvel Legends
Mighty World Of Marvel
Otaku
Pony World
Top Model
Wolverine And Deadpool

Teenage Entertainment

Doctor Who Magazine

Primary Boys

Beano 4022 cover featuring Bananaman

Beano 4022 cover featuring Bananaman

110% Gaming
Action Combat
Action GTX
Beano
Cancelled – Epic Magazine
Dino Friends
Dinosaur Action
Dinosaur Attack
Footy
Get Busy
Horrible Histories
It’s Time For
LEGO City
LEGO Giant Series
LEGO Hidden Side
LEGO Ninjago
LEGO Star Wars
Mega
Monster Megapack
Pokemon
Simpsons Comic
Spider-Man Magazine
Star Wars Galaxy
Strike It
Superzings Official Magazine
Transformers Rid
WWE Kids

Pre-Teen

Phoenix 424100 Percent Wow
Activity Fun
Activity Series
Batman Rebirth 
Be Rugby
Download
First News
Futurama Specials
Go Girl
Independent Unofficial Guide To Fortnite
Kick Extra
Lego Specials
Minecraft World
MLP Equestrian Girls
National Geographic Kids
Slime Factory
The Phoenix
This Is…
Top Of The Pops
TOXIC

Primary Girls

Angelina
Animal Friends
Animals And You
Barbie
Beautiful Mermaid
Build A Bear Workshop
Cancelled – Cute Cuddly
Cancelled Fingerlings
Colour It
Crazy For
Cuddles Baby Animals
Cute
Cute Special
Disney Princess
Fairy Princess
Favourite Friends
Frozen
Girl
Girl Talk
Girl Talk Art
Hasbro Wow
Hatchimals
Hello Kitty Magazine
Holiday Goodie Pack Girls
I Love Unicorns
Jacqueline Wilson
Katie
LEGO Friends
LOL Surprise
LOL Surprise Special
Love From
Mia And Me
Mia And Me Special
My Beautiful Princess
My Little Pony
My Little Pony Special
Num Noms
Party Girl
Pets 2 Collect
Pikmi Pops Surprise
Pink
Pony Friends
Poopsie Slime Surprise
Princess Colouring Time
Princess Friends
Princess Secrets
Princess Storytime
Princess World
Princess World Special
Rainbow Princess Colouring
Shimmer Shine
Shopkins
So Magical
Sparkle World
Spirit Riding Free
Star Girl
Sweet
Totally
Ultimate
Unicorn Magic
Unicorn Universe
We Love

Part Works

2000AD Ultimate Collection
Assassins Creed
Build Ghostbusters Ecto-1
Build The Terminator
Classic Dinky Toy Collection
DC Comic Legend Batman Special
DC Comics Graphic Novels
Deadpool
Doctor Who Figure Collection
Doctor Who Figure Collection
Legends Of Batman
Marvel Movie Collection
Marvel Movie Figure
Marvel Universe Figurine
Marvel Universe Special
Marvel Universe Special
Star Trek Graphic Novel
Star Trek Ships
Star Trek Starship Special
Transformers G1 Graphic Novel
Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection – Being Relaunched
Warhammer
Warhammer Conquest
Warhammer Mortal Realms

Pre-School Titles

321 Go
Andy’s Amazing Adventures
Baby Shark
Barney
Blaze Monster Machines
Bob The Builder
Busy Time
Cbeebies
Cbeebies Animals
Cbeebies Art
Cbeebies Art Sticker Magazine
Cbeebies Special Gift
Charlie & Lola
Cuddles
Dinosaur Roar
Disney Art
Disney Playtime
Disney Stars
Early Learning Play Pack
Everything
Fantastic Funworld
Fireman Sam
Frozen Funtime
Fun To Learn Bag Of Fun
Fun To Learn Favourites
Fun To Learn Friends
Fun To Learn I Know
Fun To Learn Peppa Pig
Fun With…
Get Busy Special
Glitter Princess Goody Bag
Go Jetters
Hey Duggee
Let’s Play
Little Princess Activit
Lucky Dip
Milkshake
Mister Maker
Mr Men Little Miss
Mr Men Little Miss Special
Mr Tumble Something Special
My Favourite Fairytales
Octonauts
Okido
Party Princess Megapack
Paw Patrol
Peppa Pig Bag O Fun
Peter Rabbit
Pj Masks
Playtime
Rescue Bots
Ryan’s World
Showcase
Super Wings
Tellytime Favourites
Thomas & Friends
Toy Box
Wild Wheels

• The Audit Bureau of Circulations is the industry body for media measurement. The organisation brings the newspaper and magazine industry together to agree measurement and process Reporting Standards, a process that is constantly evolving to keep pace with industry developments.

• View our spreadsheet of ABC figures here (2006 – 2019)

See Also: British Comic Sales Figures, Winners and Losers (January – June 2019)

• Having trouble finding your favourite title? Newsstand.co.uk offers over 4000 UK titles: www.newsstand.co.uk

FURTHER READING

InPublishing: Publisher Statements for July – June 2019 Magazine Sales Figures

Campaign: Private Eye bucks magazine print sales downward trend (Subscription/ Registration Required)
‘Greta effect’ has also helped Dennis Publishing’s The Week Junior rise 19%

Campaign: Will withdrawal from ABC undermine advertiser trust in Telegraph? (Subscription/Registration Required)

• Press Gazette: News mag ABCs: The Week Junior grows by a fifth as Private Eye and New Statesman sales up

InPublishing: Finding the distribution hotspots around the world

Distripress rounded off 2019 with its annual review of the state of the News and Magazine industry from a distribution point of view: the Distripress Circulation Monitor. Jim Bilton looks at the main findings from the research

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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2 replies

  1. Thank you for this.

    I rarely see comics in corner shops now. As a kid, I would often see 2000 AD in almost every corner shop. 15-20 years ago, Marvel UK titles could be found in corner shops. Now only WHSmith stock them, but they do seem to “hide” them away. 2000 AD is often hidden behind magazines. What are they playing at?

    • There are different “tiers” of distribution of comics and magazines to newsagents, depending on a publisher’s budget, and in turn they base their distribution on known sales, which are pretty accurate these days, focusing on the places they known the title will sell either to a regular customer or “on spec”. You can still order your favourite comic through your local newsagent, but we have heard of artificial barriers to them getting a copy from the distributor, which is of course just bonkers.

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