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August 14, 2020updated 20 Feb 2023 10:52am

ABCs: Gardening and cooking mags biggest lockdown winners as women’s titles see circulation fall

By Charlotte Tobitt

Gardening and cooking magazines were among the biggest winners of the Covid-19 lockdown, according to the latest ABC figures.

In contrast, women’s weeklies continued to see their circulation fall in the first half of this year.

Immediate Media’s cooking magazine Olive saw the biggest growth of 35% to a monthly circulation of 34,114.

Immediate also saw growth with BBC Easy Cook (14%), BBC Good Food (1%) and BBC Gardeners’ World (8%).

Although Radio Times saw decline of 10% year-on-year, Immediate said it had seen a 10% increase in subscriptions since the start of lockdown in March.

Scroll down for full January-June 2020 ABC figures for women’s, lifestyle and TV magazines

Immediate chief executive Tom Bureau said: “Given the crisis we live through, these ABCs show the remarkable appeal of Immediate’s brands to their audiences, new and established.

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“I am hugely proud of our talented editorial, publishing and commercial teams who have continued to deliver world-class content and distribution in the most challenging of circumstances.

“Lockdown has proved we’re a nation of gardeners, bakers, TV viewers, cyclists, crafters and beyond – our market leading specialist brands have helped guide and inspire millions.”

Growth could also be seen at Bauer’s Garden Answers (up 7% to 50,888) and Garden News (up 1%).

Although the publisher’s Total TV Guide fell by 4% to 84,015, it said subscriptions had risen by 27.9%.

Its celebrity titles saw large declines, with Heat falling by 33% and Closer by 27%, which it put down to disruption early in lockdown. It said digital audiences had grown instead, however.

Yours saw decline of 19% to 188,660 but the publisher said it had “massively increased its digital circulation, as even this mature audience changed its purchasing habit”.

Bauer’s chief executive of UK publishing Chris Duncan said: “While our traditional supply-chain experienced massive disruption during lockdown, the demand for our products remained strong and even increased in some markets.

“We saw home delivered and digital copies grow through our subscriptions channels, and sales in independent shops rise as more of our readers sought out copies closer to home.”

He added: “Circulations remain on track for robust recovery in the second half of the year as distribution patterns settle.”

Hearst UK, which publishes major titles such as Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Men’s Health, pulled out of this six-month reporting period and will publish full-year figures in February instead.

Its chief executive James Wildman said: “Whilst we are extremely encouraged to have seen a significant increase in magazine sales through subscriptions and convenience retailers, our business has felt the impact that Covid-19 has had on some of our other routes to market, notably via our dynamic distribution channels, along with our traditional high street and travel point stores.

“Therefore, we believe a six-month release will not accurately provide a robust view of our true circulation figures, particularly in comparison to January – June 2019.”

Women’s magazines
Publication Owner ABC total (avg per issue) Year-on-year % change Free copies
Slimming World Magazine Miles-Bramwell Executive Services Ltd 434,105 -23% 175,472
Stylist The Stylist Group Ltd 401,855 -1% 401,855
Take a Break Bauer Media 383,839 -11%
Yours Bauer Media 188,660 -19% 11,002
Take a Break Monthly Bauer Media 175,462 1%
That’s Life Bauer Media 162,191 -7%
Bella Bauer Media 137,434 -11%
Closer Bauer Media 119,931 -27% 2,310
Grazia Bauer Media 81,056 -19% 19,630
Heat Bauer Media 78,290 -33% 2,466
Love It! ACH Publishing 68,365 -15%
TV and lifestyle magazines
Publication Owner ABC total (avg per issue) Year-on-year % change Free copies
TV Choice Bauer Media 1,039,288 -7%
Radio Times Immediate Media Company 468,608 -10%
Time Out Time Out Magazine Ltd 310,551 0% 310,551
ES Magazine Evening Standard Limited 307,975 -15% 307,975
BBC Gardeners’ World Immediate Media Company 221,422 8%
Saga Magazine Saga Publishing Ltd 220,349 -6% 4,919
National Geographic Magazine National Geographic Partners 97,376 -23% 335
Total TV Guide Bauer Media 84,015 -4%
Garden Answers Bauer Media 50,888 7% 108
Garden News Bauer Media 37,776 1% 109
Food magazines
Publication Owner ABC total (avg per issue) Year-on-year % change Free copies
Tesco Magazine Cedar Comms Limited 1,934,503 3% 1,934,503
Waitrose & Partners Food John Brown 659,433 -5% 659,433
BBC Good Food Immediate Media Company 157,948 1%
delicious Eye to Eye Media Ltd 52,486 -8%
Olive Immediate Media Company 34,114 35% 251
BBC Easy Cook Immediate Media Company 24,258 14%
BBC Home Cooking Series Immediate Media Company 18,667 -22%

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