As the motoring industry power slides into a full-blown depression (have you seen the figures for new car sales? They make even house prices seem buoyant) it can only be a matter of time before one of the car mags fails its MOT.
Some indications come from the latest set of ABC figures which show nearly all of the Motoring-General and Motoring-Performance titles in urgent need of retuning.
And of course circulation is the least of some of these titles’ worries. With manufacturers cutting their marketing budgets right back, these once plump and glossy mags are looking and feeling much, much lighter. We’ve already seen the second hand sales migrate to the web leaving print classified sections barren, now we’re witnessing display drying up.
But back to circulation. In the categories mentioned only the BBC‘s Top Gear shows some black ink compared with 12 months ago, up 0.2% y-o-y, and even here their UK newsstand is down 4.8%
Elsewhere, things are more brutal. Haymarket‘s What Car is down 14.6%, with newsstand down over 17%, and Autocar is down 13.5%; Dennis have seen 10% running away from Auto Express and 8.4% from Evo; and Bauer‘s Car posted a headline decline of just 3% that masked an ‘actively purchased’ fall of 12%.
These sales figures are likely to be slightly flattering if car sales are anything to go by. These were down during all of last year, but really fell off a cliff from September onwards. Private Frazer thinks that the magazine sales figures for the fourth quarter of 2008 will redefine the word ‘grim’.
There’s further entertainment to be had in the unaptly-named Performance category. For some reason Future have changed their reporting period from 6 monthly to annually, so direct comparisons are not possible, but the figures are as follows (if Future want to supply directly comparable figures I’d be delighted to post them up. Or they could send me another letter from their legal department.):
Fast Car (Future):
- July-Dec 2007, circulation = 51,414
- Jan-Dec 2008, circulation = 36,009. That’s 30% lower,
- July-Dec 2007, circulation = 24,272
- Jan-Dec 2008, circulation = 19,297, that’s 20% lower
Maxpower from Bauer has year-on-year comparisons. In 2007 it had an ABC of 45,806, in 2008 this was 34% downat a lovely 30,076.
To show you how far things have fallen over the past few years, take a wee look at this from The Independent in 2005.