Data from the Alliance for Audited Media show that for the full year, single copy sales were down 9.5% to 26.7m, although paid subscriptions were up a slight 0.7%.
Its report breaks out replica digital editions – nearly 65% of the magazines covered in the data have digital editions as part of their total circulation – and finds them growing strongly, albeit from a low base.
In the second half of 2012, this category achieved a combined circulation of 7.9m, accounting for 2.4% of the total sector. This compares with figures of 3.2m and less than 1% respectively a year earlier.
One of the reasons given for the precipitous fall in newsstand sales is the "mobile blinder", the name given to the habit people now have of using their mobile phone while waiting to pay in the supermarket, where once they would have browsed magazines or picked up some chewing gum.
"We do find a number of people, if stalled for a minute, will steal a look at their email or news feed," David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, told the FT. "Everyone that has products at checkouts has to battle for consumer attention," he added.
Hearst Magazines publishes 20 magazine titles in the USA, one of which, Cosmopolitan, recorded an 18.5% fall in single copy sales in the second half of 2012. Other magazines that saw double-digit falls in circulation included People and Star.
Some specialist magazines bucked the trend, however. The circulation of Game Informer Magazine rose 4.7% to 7.9m.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/FT; additional content by Warc staff