The sector saw two magazine launches this period. Northern & Shell unveiled New! and posted its first ABC at 339,035 and Emap launched Closer, announcing a healthy ABC of 334,542.
"We said a year ago that we'd be happy to achieve 300,000 sales with Closer," the chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, Paul Keenan, said.
The launches saw the number of celebrity titles in the sector rise to six from four. Hello! and OK! bore the brunt of the new titles' success, both suffering double-digit drops. "There has been a move away from the high price, glossy picture books to more down-to-earth gossipy magazines," Sarah Fisher, the publishing director of Now, said.
Now remains the top celebrity magazine with a 3.6 per cent year-on-year growth, but pressure from new titles has led to a 6.3 per cent decrease in sales over the past six months.
Heat saw the largest increase in the sector at 18.1 per cent year on year, although sales have flattened out from the 56 per cent rise seen in the last period.
Easy entertainment continued to do well and Chat again out-performed the market with an increased ABC of 11.8 per cent year on year.
But Chat and Take a Break were the only non-celebrity magazines to increase their circulation in the year. H Bauer's That's Life saw a slight decline of 0.9 per cent but Bella experienced a more dramatic fall, seeing its circulation drop by 7 per cent period on period.
Verdict New entrants have shaken up the celebrity sector but have shown growth is still possible. All eyes are on Emap's celebrity magazine launch this September.
WOMEN'S WEEKLY MAGAZINES
TITLE PUBLISHER Total ABC Period on Year on
period % year
Take a Break H Bauer 1,225,116 1.70 1.50
That's Life H Bauer 592,036 -0.90 0.30
Now IPC 590,544 -6.30 3.60
Chat IPC 575,585 4.10 11.80
Woman IPC 571,482 -10.40 -9.50
Heat Emap 565,484 2.00 18.10
OK! N&S 489,882 -22.60 -14.80
Woman's Own IPC 484,705 -6.70 -6.60
Woman's Weekly IPC 465,500 -4.20 -6.60
Best NatMags 414,739 -0.30 -2.30
Bella H Bauer 398,009 -7.00 -10.50
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (Jan-June 2003).