Careful shoppers are taking a pass on Cosmo

cosmo1.JPG Maybe Helen Gurley Brown was wrong: Maybe you can't have it all - at least when it comes to circulation. Just days before the death of Brown came word that newsstand sales of her beloved Cosmopolitan fell 15.5 percent for the first half of the year. In fairness, many women-oriented magazines have had a tough go - and despite the drop, Cosmo's circulation is still tops, at 1.3 million. But industry consultant John Harrington wonders whether the frugal economic times are causing women readers to think twice about picking up a copy at the supermarket checkout stand. Also down sharply were Vogue, People, and Us Weekly. From the NYT:

Newsstand sales have suffered sharp declines recently, falling 9.96% in the second half of last year, according to ABC. Nina Link, the president of the Association of Magazine Media, an industry trade association, said competition from other forms of media--such as the Web--was a factor. But she argued the main reason for the decline was a weak economy in which people are making fewer trips to the grocery store. "Magazines are an impulse purchase," she said. "It's discretionary spending in a very weak economy where consumer confidence is low." Sales of other grocery store check-out purchases, like gum and carbonated drinks, are also down for the year ending in June, compared to the same period the previous year, according to Supermarket News.
cosmo2.JPGSay what you will about Brown (and many have in the last day or so), but she was responsible for drastically altering the tone and content of women's magazines - no small accomplishment. Slate has assembled an interesting collection of Cosmo covers over the years, and you can start to see Brown's influence when she became editor-in-chief in 1965 ("Try London - Where Single Girls Swing" was the cover headline in October of that year).

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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