Losers and Winners: Latest British News Stand Comic Sales revealed

The Beano gets a Top Gear makeover courtesy of guest star and editor TV presenter Richard Hammond this week. Image © DC Thomson

The Beano’s  Top Gear makeover was a PR success, but the full figures for the issue Image © DC Thomson

There’s a mixed bag of results for British comics publishers in terms of reported sales for June – December 2013, based on figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations earlier today.

As we’ve previously noted, many adventure titles such as 2000AD and Commando – and, most recently, Titan’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars comic, which no longer reports its sales – are not ABC registered, so it’s difficult to say exactly how well this sector is faring. While both Panini and Titan publish a raft of superhero comics, only one, Panini’s Ultimate Spider-Man, has ABC data, indicating average sales of 28,709, down slightly on the previous six months from 30,885.

In general, sales for The Beano are down compared to 2012 from a 12 month average sale of 36,081 to 32,028, but its sales may have been affected by the launch of Dennis & Gnasher magazine, which has an average sale of just over 20,000.

One item that caught downthetubes’ contributor Jeremy Briggs’ eye was that while securing Top Gear‘s Richard Hammond as a guest editor for The Beano back in November may have been PR gold, based on the full published ABC figures for The Beano it would appear that success was not matched by the sale figures (which do not include digital sales). These indicate it was the second lowest selling issue of the year at 10.3% below average – 28729 copies against a year average of 32,028. The biggest selling issue of The Beano was as usual its Christmas edition at 43.3% above average i.e. 45,896 copies.

Comic fans have often derided celebrity-promoted marketing, and if these figures are correct it would appear they may have good reason to do so.

There is good news in other areas. Two non-licensed boys comic-magazines, Immediate Media’s Mega and Egmont’s long-running TOXIC, both show a rise in average sales. Sales of both Doctor Who Adventures and Doctor Who Magazine remain bouyant, assisted of course by the huge coverage given over to the show’s 50th anniversary.

Pre-school titles remain fairly strong, with Redan achieving considerable success with its Peppa Pig title, averaging 98,922 sales per issue, but sales across the board, even for well known brands such as Immediate Media’s Octonuats, are down year on year.

In the girls sector, most titles we list are far from what anyone would consider comics (it’s a shame there is nothing like Misty or Bunty still around), but they do indicate continued success for the sector, with Disney Tinkerbell pretty much stable and increased sales for Egmont’s Hello Kitty and DC Thomson’s Jacqueline Wilson title.

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.

British Comic Sales Figures (Google Doc)

Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, Featured News

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14 replies

  1. Blimey £2? I’ve still got old copies with a cover price of 5p!

    • I think you’ll find production costs have risen since 1972! 🙂 Joking aside, The Beano is still one of the cheapest comics out there, with many others priced at much more than that, presumably to cover the cost of the landfill consuming free gift supermarkets insist they feature. Higher price points are, I suspect, actively encouraged by both supermarkets and newsagents. Their simplistic logic assumes a higher price point means greater profits for less stock held. That the higher cost puts off a prospective purchaser has somehow escaped them completely…

    • I remember when Wagon Wheels were the size of a bin lid and you could use a Curly Wurly as a loft ladder. We must be incredibly old.

  2. I still think that the way comics are displayed play a huge part in sales. As I’ve said elsewhere, all throughout last year my local WH Smith (and branches in other towns/cities) had an odd policy of displaying comics alphabetically in a tall shelving unit. Therefore The Beano was always on top of a 6ft high shelf, (well out of reach of children) with titles such as Toxic and Mega much lower down, within eyesight and easy reach of the target audience.

    That said, The Beano’s sales are pretty good considering that over the past 15 months the only issues bagged with gifts were the Christmas issues. It had a few cover mounts for six weeks last summer, and has one this week, but usually it flies solo, relying solely on being a comic, not part of a comic + toy package. No other children’s comic in High Street stores does that, so well done to The Beano!

    • The lack of cover mounts will help keep the title’s cover price down. Given though that over 40 per cent of a magazine or comic’s sale are now in supermarkets I’m not sure the decision to not have a free gift helps, though. Busy parents I’ve seen in the magazine aisles of local supermarkets would appear to making a choice of reading based on the free gift that comes with a title and not on the basis of what is in the comic itself. So they’re buying on the basis of a) brand b) gift c) content (no matter how good or bad it may be). I don’t think there’s much difference in terms of choosing between brand and gift. Which of course means you have to spend more on “brand awareness”, something The Beano is achieving not only through the comic itself but spin-off TV (Dennis) and merchandise.

      • I presume though that DC Thomson have based their decision to drop the gifts on sales figures of when they did do bagged issues. If there wasn’t much difference, there’s little point in doing them. Agreed that some parents will base their buying decisions on whether the comic has a gift, but they also base it on price. As The Beano is a third, or even half, the price of its rivals, it’s a big incentive.

      • I suspect it’s also a matter of cost – these lumps of plastic aren’t cheap! I’m sure regular buyers aren’t concerned by the gift but casual punters, from my experience (say, a grand parent looking for a comic to buy their grandchild) are swayed by the gifts rather than price as “Value For Money”. Same goes for the busy parents in supermarkets looking for something to keep their child happy as they prepare to trawl around the aisles. It’s these ‘casual’ readers that are essential to boost sales.

      • True, but what I’m saying is The Beano is still holding its own *despite* not carrying gifts. Another factor in sales would be frequency. It’s true that the Christmas Beano did have higher sales, due in part no doubt to that one issue being bagged with gifts, but also possibly due to the fact the Christmas issue was on the shelves for three weeks instead of its usual weekly frequency. Toxic and Mega are on the shelves for three weeks to a month *every* issue, so one would expect their sales to be higher. The Beano has just seven days for each issue to be bought, so I still think 32,000 a week is a respectable figure all things considered. (I’m not just saying that because I freelance for The Beano, as I freelance for Toxic as well. :))

      • Good point. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not shouting gloom and doom here. It’s clear that given the economic climate the publishers seem reasonably happy with sales figures in the children’s sector. The fact that so many comics are not ABC listed suggests some are doing far worse than The Beano! Although it is also an added cost to be listed the observation that as the sales of a title decline from our spreadsheet, so those titles get dropped from the ABC certification, suggests this…

  3. LicensingBiz reports publishers such as Redan (who are doing well with Peppa Pig) are saying children’s magazine publishers have put in a good showing in the latest round of ABCs – covering the period July to December 2013, all seeing growth.

    The site notes Egmonts’ TOXIC remains the UK’s number one tween boys magazine, with the title reporting a 12.8 per cent growth YOY.

    Immediate Media saw its youth and children’s portfolio record 7.6 per cent growth YOY.

    For Immediate Media, particularly strong performances were made by Girl Talk Art, Octonauts (which saw two per cent growth YOY), Cbeebies Special (which grew 16 per cent during the period), Mega and BBC Doctor Who Adventures. Link: http://www.licensing.biz/news/read/good-showing-for-children-s-publishers-in-latest-round-of-abcs/039552

  4. DC Thomson has issued the following statement about the figures: DC Thomson titles, The People’s Friend, Animals and You and Jacqueline Wilson celebrate year-on-year growth.

    Following a January to June 2013 period-on-period increase of over 1%, The People’s Friend continues to grow its circulation figures with a 0.1% (average issue sale of 240,051 copies) year-on-year increase.

    DC Thomson Head of Circulation (Magazines) Iain McKenzie explains, “This is a significant milestone for The People’s Friend and a great performance in what continues to be a challenging market place. Particularly pleasing is our fantastic growth in subscription sales which now accounts for almost 25,000 copies per week, an increase of over 29% on last year.”

    The People’s Friend Editor-in-Chief Angela Gilchrist added, “I am absolutely delighted by this latest result – achieving a year-on-year circulation increase is every Editor’s dream. The ‘Friend’ is enjoying one of the most successful periods in its 145-year history, thanks to a truly magnificent combined effort involving the editorial, design, marketing, advertising and promotional teams – and, not least, the staff members responsible for our outstanding growth in subscriber numbers. It’s wonderful to see all our hard work resulting in such success.”

    Two of DC Thomson’s children’s titles, Animals and You and The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, have also posted year-on-year increases. Posting its highest ABC figure since June 2008, Animals and You was up 15% (an average issue sale of 33,406 copies) year-on-year whilst, The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, posted its highest ABC figure in the title’s history, up 1.0% (average issue sale of 46,848 copies) year-on-year.

    DC Thomson Publisher (Children’s Entertainment) Maria Welch said, “This is fantastic news for Animals and You and The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, a publication which has exceeded all expectations and in revenue terms is now the 10th largest children’s title in the UK. The Editorial teams of both titles work hard to maintain reader appeal making our girls’ magazines the success that they are.”

    DC Thomson Head of Advertising (Magazines) Andrew Williams added, “To see sales increases across these three titles is extremely encouraging as it offers an attractive proposition for any advertiser, particularly in the current climate.”

  5. Egmont has released the following statement about the figures:

    Egmont Magazines, the children’s magazine division of Egmont UK, enjoyed a robust set of ABC results for the period July – December 2013, with titles Toxic and Go Girl leading the way.

    The strength of Egmont’s magazines was demonstrated by the fifth consecutive period of growth for Toxic, which remains the UK’s number one tween boy’s magazine. The title reported a 12.8% growth yoy and 1% growth pop, by continuing to deliver exciting and relevant content for its target market.

    For Toxic, 2013 was also a year of digital innovation, including its first interactive issue in partnership with ‘Aurasma’, the launch of its bespoke website and its first two apps in June.

    Go Girl, Egmont’s title for pre-teen girls, also reported consecutive periods of growth, with circulation increases of 21.9% yoy and 11.4% pop. Continued investment in consumer insight has paid dividends in guiding and ensuring editorial freshness.

    The combined success of Toxic and Go Girl demonstrates Egmont’s expertise in magazines across the pre-teen market.

    The growth of the Disney Portfolio, with circulation increasing 11.2% yoy and 18.4% pop, was bolstered by new launch of Disney Stars. The title, which launched in July 2013, enjoyed a strong first set of ABC figures, with a circulation of over 45,000.

    We Love Pop saw an increase of 5% pop, an impressive result in the current tough pre-teen girls market.

    Circulation of Monster High also grew 11.2% yoy; part of the global Egmont magazine offering, this title is now published in 24 different territories.

    Monster High Magazine also boasts a successful app which is formed from content from the magazine and features interactive stories, plus a design section for personalised Monster High creations. Fans can also visit the Monster Store in the app for additional stories, webisodes, pins and other features. The app has seen over 40,000 downloads, demonstrating Egmont’s ability to build a deeply engaged fanbase.

    Following its relaunch at the start of 2013, Thomas & Friends also saw an enormous increase, growing 42.3% yoy and 28.4% pop – a great example of keeping a heritage brand fresh, exciting and in growth.

    Another relaunch success is Hello Kitty Magazine with increases of 19.4% yoy and 6.4% pop.

    Egmont plan to continue this growth with a range of new launches in 2014. Angry Birds Magazine will launch in July this year. Targeting 6-9 year-old boys and girls, Angry Birds will be packed with stickers, puzzles, games and things to make plus an exclusive pull-out comic book. Disney Infinity Magazine will launch in April, following the launch of the game in August 2013, and will be comprised of game news, upcoming product information, tips and secrets, as well as character information.

    This continued investment in new titles demonstrates Egmont’s ambition to constantly evolve and grow.

    Gillian Laskier, Managing Director, Egmont Magazines, said: “This is another strong set of ABC results for Egmont’s magazine portfolio. Our magazine sales continue to grow with a 5.7% year-on-year increase.

    We are very proud of our expertise in both the pre-teen boys and girls markets, demonstrated by a fifth consecutive period of growth for Toxic and an increase of 21.9% yoy for Go Girl.

    As a specialist children’s publisher we have an in depth understanding our market – and we continue to work closely with various parties who value a quality offering for children.”

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