MAGAZINE ABCs: Pick Me Up sales sink 18% to nearly half launch level

IPC Media is standing by its real life weekly Pick Me Up, despite it suffering the heaviest of year-on-year falls in a sector publishers say is reeling from the economic downturn.

Pick Me Up: publisher blames circulation fall on consumer spending squeeze
Pick Me Up: publisher blames circulation fall on consumer spending squeeze

Pick Me Up, which launched in 2005 with a debut ABC of 503,950 copies, is now down to 261,588 copies.

Year on year, it haemorrhaged 18.1% of its circulation and is down 8.9% period on period.

However, Fiona Dent, managing director of IPC Connect  rejected the idea of closing the title, saying: "Pick Me Up is a strong brand for IPC and we're pleased with its financial performance."

She declined to reveal whether any major changes were planned, but said research was a "continuing process" at IPC and it was a case of "watch this space".

In common with other publishers, Dent sought to pin the blame for widespread circulation declines among women's real life and traditional weeklies squarely on the state of the economy.

She said: "There's no question we're seeing the impact of consumer spending, which is the most squeezed it's been since the 1970s. That obviously impacts mass-market women, who have slightly less disposable income in society as a whole."

Even H Bauer's market leader Take A Break was sucked downwards, losing more than 50,000 copies year on year.

It is now just above 800,000 copies, a level it has not seen since the 1990s when it was growing on its way to a peak circulation of 1,227,305 copies in the January-June 2005 period.

Take A Break and That's Life publishing director Andy Brooks defended the decline, pointing to "recessionary factors" and the impact of four lower-priced rival titles launched in 2005/6, Pick Me Up among them.

All four have suffered further falls in this period, with Hubert Burda's Love It! (originally brought to market by News International) down 8.4% year on year to 212,168 copies.

Like Pick Me Up, it has fallen progressively over the years to half its launch level, which was 405,441 copies.

Its stablemate Full House, which retails for 50p while Take A Break is at 82p, is down 4.3% year on year to 168,240 copies, having debuted with 235,787 copies.

Real People, now part of Natmag/Hachette combine Hearst Magazines UK, is down 7.2% year on year to 208,850 copies – its launch figure was 318,105.

Chat, the closest rival to Take A Break and sister magazine to IPC's Pick Me Up, is down 9% year on year to 391,749 copies.

Among the traditional women's weeklies, there was a ray of light only for Women's Weekly, the IPC title that celebrated its centenary this year.

With a boost from the Royal Wedding, according to Dent, the old stager is up 0.4% year on year to 339,993 copies.

Dent also claimed that a refresh for Woman had paid off with strong sales in the final six weeks of the reporting period, although the circulation is down 9.9% year on year.

Rob Lynam, head of press at MEC, said the sector had "taken a hammering" and "has been one of the most over-served and competitive for years".

However, from an advertiser's point of view he said the positive was that it was full of titles delivering large circulations - Take A Break for example being the fourth highest actively purchased magazine.

"The mens' sector is a problem for advertisers but women are very well catered for. The problem is which magazine to advertise in because you've got so much choice."

Top 13 women's real life and traditional
Title Publisher Jan - Jul Prd/prd Yr/yr
    2011 change change
Take a Break H Bauer Publishing  803,555 -3.6% -6.1%
Chat IPC Media  391,749 -5.6% -9.0%
Women's Weekly IPC Media  339,993 -1.2% 0.4%
That's Life H Bauer Publishing  321,332 -4.3% -5.9%
Woman IPC Media  286,731 -7.5% -9.9%
Best Hearst Magazines  280,218 -4.7% -7.3%
People's Friend D C Thomson & Co  268,230 -5.1% -7.9%
Pick Me Up IPC Media  261,588 -8.9% -18.1%
Woman's Own IPC Media  245,868 -15.7% -9.7%
Bella H Bauer Publishing  239,660 -2.3% -2.8%
Love it! Hubert Burda Media  212,168 -12.4% -8.4%
Real People Hearst Magazines  208,850 -4.3% -7.2%
Full House Hubert Burda Media UK  168,240 -3.3% -4.3%
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