While the vast majority of consumer magazines that are paid for are seeing steady circulation declines, there’s actually been very little variation in who takes the top spots over the last eight years.
The alluvial diagram shows the trend for stability at the top. While not every title in the top 20 retains its position year to year, the overall trend is for the best-selling consumer magazines to retain their positions while those lower down shift around slightly, but remain in the top twenty overall.
The orange sections demonstrate how many top twenty magazines from 2007 retained that position through to 2014:
55 percent of the magazines present in the top twenty in 2007 were also there in 2014.
That, of course, isn’t to say that there’s parity between those top twenty in terms of how many copies they each sell. The December 2014 figures demonstrate the difference in circulation between the magazines:
So the top twenty consumer magazine selection is actually quite stable, Of course, while the make up of the top 20 titles remains pretty stable over the eight years we analysed, the number of copies sold is in decline. That’s not stability, it’s stagnation:
What has changed though is the continuing rise (or, at least, slower decline) of free magazines, such as those distributed by supermarkets in-store. Adding in these titles shows their relative success. In 2007, one in five of the top 20 magazines by circulation were free, but by 2014 free magazines accounted for half the leading titles, including the top three.
So while free magazines have made in-roads, the magazines large numbers of people are prepared to pay for have barely changed. The bulk of UK magazine consumers aren’t developing new tastes, they’re just losing their taste for paying for print.