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Revenue for Canada's periodical publishing industry continues to decline in 2019

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Released: 2021-03-29

Operating revenue, periodical publishers

$ 1.2 billion


-10.3% decrease

(period-to-period change)

The Canadian periodical publishing industry saw its operating revenue decrease to $1.2 billion in 2019, the lowest level since comparable data began to be published in 2013. While this was a 10.3% decline in operating revenue compared with 2017, it was not as pronounced as in previous years. Operating expenses (-8.4% to $1.1 billion) and salaries, wages and commissions (-9.7% to $378.5 million) recorded similar declines in 2019.

Industry decreases were primarily driven by publishers operating in Ontario and Quebec, which accounted for 78.8% of total operating revenue in the periodical publishing industry in 2019. Profit margins for the industry in Canada declined from 10.0% in 2017 to 8.1% in 2019.

Shrinking circulation revenue (-$75.0 million) was a significant factor in the decline in operating revenue from 2017 to 2019. Much of the decrease in circulation revenue was due to the prevalence of free or timelier alternatives to periodical content in an increasingly digital environment. Advertising revenue declined $38.8 million in the same period. This source of revenue has continually decreased since 2013, going from $1.1 billion to $569.5 million.

The proportion of magazines purchased by paid subscription declined for the second reporting period in a row in 2019. Conversely, controlled or requested circulation increased to represent 34.8% of circulation revenue.

Periodical publishers released the majority of titles in both digital and print formats (61.7%) or in digital-only format (8.7%).

Like many other industries, the periodical publishing industry was not insulated from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is expected to further dampen operating revenue in 2020, with the declines mostly concentrated in the complementary and newsstand sales areas. Both types of distribution rely heavily on a high concentration of foot traffic in public spaces, which is down as a result of COVID-19. With the economic uncertainty in 2020, advertising expenditures are expected to have declined as well. Given that 55.0% of total sales came from advertising sales in 2019, this will have a pronounced impact on the industry overall in 2020.

  Note to readers

Data for 2017 have been revised.

The data for reference year 2019 were collected during spring and summer of 2020. This collection period coincides with the events and business disruptions around COVID-19 and, in general, response rates have been lower. As a result, there may be larger-than-normal revisions to the data in future releases. For more information on data quality and revisions please refer to 5091— Survey of Service Industries: Periodical Publishers.

These and other data related to the arts, culture, heritage and sports sector can be found at the Culture statistics portal.

Contact information

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