The women's weekly market as a whole increased by 6.6 per cent year on year, with celebrity titles accounting for much of this growth.
Closer and Heat leapfrogged OK!, enabling Closer to lead the celebrity market for the first time. OK! tumbled by 16 per cent on the previous period, when its sales were boosted by a series of Jordan wedding exclusives.
Louise Matthews, the managing director of Emap Entertainment, says: "Heat and Closer have revolutionised the celebrity weeklies market. Their record sales are testament to their teams' commitment to producing fresh and exciting magazines that cut through a crowded market."
Hello!, OK!'s arch-rival, increased its circulation by 3.3 per cent to sell an average 403,666 copies a week. Northern & Shell's other celebrity titles also helped to drive the celebrity sector. New!'s circulation rose spectacularly year on year and Star was the strongest performer in the sector. Heavy TV advertising and price promotion may have been a factor in this success.
Sales of ACP-NatMag's Reveal jumped 25.3 cent year on year but the two-year-old title still languishes 250,000 copies behind Closer.
The arrival of younger, fresher titles has shaken up the weekly market. ACP-NatMag's Real People and News Magazines' Love It! both launched in this period, prompting falls for all other titles in the real-life sector.
Reporting its first circulation, Love It! hit its target, achieving an average net circulation of 405,441 copies, while Real People made it into the top 60 UK consumer magazines with a circulation of 318,105 copies. However, sales of Love It! were boosted by promotional copies. More than 100,000 copies of its average sale were sold below the full cover-price.
H Bauer's Take a Break remained the market leader, selling more than twice as many copies as its nearest rivals That's Life and Pick Me Up.
Philippa Hamilton, the publishing director at H Bauer, says: "The women's true-life weekly market has seen the introduction of several new titles over the six-month period. Yet Take a Break has still out-performed true-life weeklies period on period.
"Despite the hype surrounding the new entrants into the women's weekly markets, Take a Break has still maintained the number-one position.
"This performance shows our commitment to the innovative nature and originality of Take a Break's editorial, which continues to make it appeal to a wide readership."
Verdict There is still a huge buzz surrounding weeklies and the growth of the sector suggests it is expanding at the expense of some monthlies. Despite the hype attached to real-life magazines, the celebrity titles are showing the strongest sales increases.
TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period-on Year-on
% chg % chg
Take a Break H Bauer 1,082,051 -6.4 -9.9
Closer Emap 590,211 2.1 9.3
Heat Emap 579,883 0.8 -3.5
Chat IPC 554,375 -8.0 -9.0
OK! Northern & Shell 547,714 -15.7 2.8
Now IPC 539,902 -6.6 -8.8
That's Life H Bauer 490,220 -10.9 -13.9
New! Northern & Shell 458,751 7.6 23.0
Pick Me Up IPC 445,098 -9.5 -11.7
Woman IPC 417,362 -8.6 -14.0
Source Audit Bureau of Circulations, January-June 2006.