Mags’ Q1 Newsstand Stats Sink After Wholesaler Spat

Magazine newsstand sales fell roughly 12 percent in the first quarter, a period when disruptions in delivery systems prevented many titles, particularly weeklies, from reaching stores for several weeks.
The figure, from Magazine Information Network (MagNet), represents point-of-purchase estimates and could end up higher once all returned magazines are counted. Tightening consumer spending was already cutting into newsstand sales, which fell 11 percent in the second half of ’08, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The delivery disruption was expected to be short-lived; one of four leading wholesalers, Anderson News, went out of business Feb. 7 after failing to get concessions from publishers, and many of the stores it supplied were parceled out to the remaining three.
But two months later, an estimated 6,000 retail locations, including many Winn-Dixie and Walgreens outlets, still weren’t receiving copies as of last week, said Gil Brechtel, president of wholesaler-owned MagNet, who expects service to be restored soon. “It will take a while to sort this out,” he said.
“Not only are there many stores not being serviced two months after Anderson ceased doing business, but there are returns that have been sitting in those stores that need to be picked up and processed.”