The newsstand magazine business "recovered" somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2014, following the demise of Source Interlink Distribution at the end of May, which significantly impacted second and third quarter magazine sales at newsstand. Second half 2014 dollar sales across all titles declined at a similar rate as the audited titles, about 14.2%.
As stated in our last Business Insights newsletter, MagNet estimated newsstand sales in the third quarter, 2014, using several different measurements, due to the fact that in some cases product on sale when Source ceased operations, was never returned to the new servicing wholesalers. We also estimated sales for June, 2014 in our second quarter numbers. For that reason, we will only provide a deeper analysis of the numbers for fourth quarter 2014 compared to the same period previous year, in order to ensure the accuracy of the information.
Taking into consideration the service disruption that began in June, 2014 that is just now approaching full recovery, we estimate that if 2014 would have been a normal year, annual dollar sales would have been about $2.845 billion, about a 7.16% dollar decline compared to 2013. That's a smaller decline than the industry endured in 2013 compared to 2012, when dollar sales dropped by 9%. As we reported in our last Business Insights newsletter, in stores that did not experience a disruption in service when Source went out of business, third quarter dollar sales declined only 2.25%. We believe that one of the factors in the fourth quarter decline of 9% in dollar sales is fewer copies being printed by some major publishers for newsstand consumption. That decision can be partially attributed to a larger focus on lower priced subscriptions and digital sales, as well as wholesaler subsidy programs which makes newsstand sales more costly to publishers.