July 30, 2013 – The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is permanently removing 891 magazines from its stock, an assortment that includes The Saturday Evening Post, SpongeBob Comics, the Home Buyers Guide, Playboy and many others.
AAFES officials said they want to reduce space for the magazine product category in exchange stores by 33 percent beginning tomorrow. The additional exchange floor and shelf space will be given to products and services such as electronics, whose demand is increasing, officials said.
“The decision to no longer stock the material is a business decision driven by the time, money and energy required to facilitate buying habits, combined with decreasing demand,” Army Lt. Col. Antwan C. Williams, AAFES public affairs chief, said in a statement.
Consistent with its mission to provide quality merchandise and services to its customers at competitively low prices and to generate earnings which provide a dividend to support morale, welfare and recreation programs, Williams said, AAFES is adjusting its stock assortment to align offerings with industry counterparts.
Retailers have seen a sustained decrease in demand for printed magazines, and sales of all magazines at exchange facilities fell 18.3 percent from 2011 to 2012, AAFES officials said.
Among the 891 magazines that AAFES exchanges no longer will sell are some adult titles, including Playboy, Penthouse, American Curves, and Tattoo. Along with other magazine sales, sales of adult sophisticate titles at AAFES stores have declined 86 percent since 1998.
“According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, digital magazines continue to expand their presence in the industry,” Williams said. “Like their civilian counterparts, exchange shoppers' increased reliance on digital devices to access content virtually has resulted in a sustained decrease in demand for printed magazines.”
Magazine sales “are on a sustained downward trajectory due to the proliferation of digital delivery,” he added, “and the exchange, as a government entity, is operating in a fiscally constrained environment that requires it to shrink expenses while growing sales and earnings.”