Magazine businesses in South Africa continue to get crushed by recession, coronavirus and the shift to online media consumption

Magazine businesses in South Africa continue to get crushed by recession, coronavirus and the shift to online media consumption

This is a sad day for magazine businesses in South Africa in 2020. The print and magazine publication business continues to get crushed by the recent economy downturn, Coronavirus, as well as the shift to online media consumption. The latest casualty to hit this space now becomes Caxton Publishers in South Africa.

Caxton South Africa magazine future is unknown

The Board of Directors of Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers Limited (Cat) announced today that they will be withdrawing from magazine publishing and associated businesses and are now looking for buyers to purchase their “dead” magazine titles. The list of magazines make this a sad day for South Africans as many of us have grown up to these household titles:

  • Bona Magazine
  • Country Life Magazine
  • Essentials Magazine
  • Food & Home Magazine
  • Garden & Home Magazine
  • People Magazine
  • Rooi Rose Magazine
  • Vrouekeur Magazine
  • Woman & Home Magazine
  • Your Family Magazine

The Caxton Downfall?

The board stated that the reason for this decision was the following:

“The steady and  continuous reduction in the overall amount of ad-spend being allocated by advertisers to the magazine media sector as well as the decline in circulation revenues has, over a number of years, significantly reduced the viability of the magazine business.” 

“Further, the negative impact of the recent Covid-19 lockdown on general economic activity and, as a consequence, on the ability of the business to trade normally in what were already difficult trading conditions for magazine publishers has made this decision unavoidable.”

Is there a future for printed magazine publications in South Africa?

We understand that the South African and worldwide media publishers are getting hit hard by a large down scaling of all activities which resulted from the Coronavirus global lock down, with the high level of advertising spend drop as consumers stay home for their safety and “try to flatten the curve”. 

Magazine publishers have already felt the previous impact and were limping from the recent economy downturn and the recession impact from 2019. This simply puts a deadly last nail in the coffin.

Where has the magazine reader audience in South Africa gone?

Recent online news publishers that have page view statistics that have been released, have shown huge growth during the Coronavirus lock-down period, particularly in the month of April 2020.

This could have dramatically changed the media landscape in South Africa going forward as consumers have started to consume many of these online publications and realise the ease of attainability of these resources to them. Has print magazine media now completely lost the cool factor that it may have had in the past? 

Caxton has already stopped certain printing operations in Gauteng, while other print media houses have implemented salary cuts or even closed down already.

Growing list of print media casualties in South Africa

On 1st May 2020, Associated Media Publishing, which published the following magazines has already closed.

  • Cosmopolitan Magazine
  • House & Leisure Magazine
  • Good Housekeeping Magazine
  • Women on Wheels Magazine

Growth of Online Media Publications in 2020

Online publishers have seen a big increase in readership during the Coronavirus South Africa lockdown in 2020.

The below table shows South African Online readership figures for April 2020 and the yearly percentage change in figures from April 2019 to April 2020.

South African Online Readership Figures for April 2020

South African Online Readership Figures for April 2020 – Statistics showing 1 year changes in audience numbers in April 2019 and April 2020:

WebsiteApril 2019April 2020Change
BBC Sites3,276,5252,635,943-20%,724,9502,445,78442%

*Stats taken from MyBroadband

Caxton South Africa magazines are for sale

The Caxton Group has decided “in principle” to close its magazine division which was a difficult, but unavoidable decision in the interest of the group as a whole, says the company. 

Caxton is consulting with its employees. Caxton is “keen to engage with any other parties and publishers who would be interested in taking over any of its titles.” 

Interested parties can contact Anton Botes at

RIP - Print Media Publications in South Africa

This leaves us with the sad conclusion to ask ourselves and adds another chapter to the 2020 history books: 

  • Was this the last nail in the coffin and is print media that we grew up with now dead?
  • What will replace print media shelf space at grocery stores and retailers that we grew up with? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Is there is any future possibility of print publications to be resurrected in the South African market?

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