For the country’s magazine publishers, the huge circulation falls of 2008 are over, except among craft titles, which contradicts claims that the recession and financial crisis has turned us into homebodies.

ACP Magazines, part of PBL Media, and Pacific Publications, part of Seven Media Group, all had something to be pleased about, and something to worried them.

News Magazines, part of News Ltd’s local operation, was probably the worst performer among the majors, thanks to the way its food titles lost considerable ground.

But most publishers would have been happy with the slowdown in the sales loss in 2009 which improved as this year has gone on. The 120% annual slumps of 2008 seem to be behind the sector now.

While MasterChef was a surprise hit for Ten and led to the claims that it appealed because we were stopping at home and absorbing the recipes (then going out and buying ingredients), sales of foodie mags sagged.

News’ magazines foods titles were not very successful in the audit.

Australian Good Taste slumped 16.5% in the year to June and 13% in June from December 2008. That saw sales down from just over 160,000 in June 2008 to just over 134,000 in the June, 2009 quarter. Another news title, Super Food Ideas, saw sales in the year to June tumble 12.5%, and stablemate Vogue Entertaining and Travel lost 4.6%

MasterChef was just getting underway in May and June and hadn’t hit the heights of popularity it did in its final week. So perhaps we will see food titles perk up in the September and December quarters

ACP’s Gourmet Traveller lost 4.4% of sales over the year to June, but was up 0.3% from the December, 2008 figure (or 192 copies).

The most successful food title wasn’t a foodie publication; it was the privately Health Food Guide which saw sales rise 15% in the year to June to 36,457 copies.

Pacific’s Better Homes and Gardens isn’t a strict foodie publication either, more lifestyle, with gardens and craft thrown in. It saw sales rise 10% over the year to June to 370,000. It stood out among the craft-related titles which were mostly weaker. News’ Notebook also did well, up 9% in the year.

Australian Country Craft and Decorating saw sales drop 22.2% in the 12 months ended June; Australian Country Threads lost 17.4% of its sales in the year to June and Country Home Ideas suffered a crippling 41% drop in sales in the 12 month period. Now, many of these titles have small circs, so losses like this can be devastating. Overall the segment saw sales drop 16.4% over the year to June.

With the GFC and recession biting, property lost its gloss and sales of Australian Property Investor slumped 29% in the year to June to just under 26,000 copies. AFR Smart Investor lost 17.7% of its sales over the year.

That’s another triumph for Michael Gill and Glenn Burge at the AFR. It’s Monday to Friday sales slumped 8.4%, sales of the AFR Magazine were off 25%. And these people charge you to go to the AFR website. Readership of the paid for papers and magazines are falling, why add to your losses by paying to access

Better Homes and Gardens’ success can be seen from the fact that it now sells more than its Pacific stablemate, New Idea, which slid 7.4% to 325,000 copies. Homes is a monthly, New Idea a weekly.

There’s a bit of a message here that readers are rejecting gossip and tat for a bit of straight information and help, attractively packaged and marketed through a TV show.

But then Pacific’s gossip mag, Famous stood out with a 30% rise in sales to nearly 89,600 copies. Better Homes wins by virtue of larger sales.

ACP’s Woman’s Day slid 5.3% over the year to June with sales running at 407,644 copies. Pacific’s Who Weekly shed 2.5% of its sales to 135,040 copies a week in the June quarter. The Australian Woman’s Weekly saw sales fall 7%% in the year to June to 493,055 copies, but it was up 0.3% the figure for the December, 2008 quarter. Harpers Bazaar fell 7.9% (but up 7.9% from December, 2008 to June this year). Madison by 4.7%.

ACP’s TV Week lost 6.2% of its sales in the year to June, Alpha, the sports mag produced by News Mags, shed another 18% of its sales in the June year; it’s now down to just over 72.200 copies. FHM, a lad’s mag from ACP, shed 12.4% of its sales in the June year. People and Picture also lost sales, but Ralph added 2.8%. Computing mags fell, as did many motorcycle magazine titles. The AFL Record lost 25.1% of its circulation in the year to June; some boating and other male directed lifestyle titles were weaker.

Australian Farm Journal lost 22% of its sales in the 12 months, Ad News lost 3.9% and Australian Geographic shed 3.5% of its sales to 140,724. That’s another poor result for ACP.

In women’s titles, the tweenie titles from Pacific, K-Zone shed 15.3% and Total Girl lost 8.4%. ACP’s Disney Girl shed more than 19% and Disney Adventures, nearly 20%. Overall the tweenie segment was a bloodbath, with the category down 13% in the 12 months to June. Pacific’s Girlfriend, which aims above the tweenies market, shed 6.0%, but ACP’s Dolly rose 4.1% and sold around 125,000 copes.

In Women’s Lifestyle, Marie Claire and Instyle rose slightly, which would keep Pacific’s Nick Chan happy. But Cleo‘s 10% fall over the June year would mean another line on the face of PBL Media’s Ian Law, who has been supervising the wholesale clean out and replacement of editors and swingeing staff and resources cuts at the magazines business of PBL Media.

But ACP’s Shop Til You Drop added more than 7% of its sales in the year, so that was a small bit of good news for ACP.

Fusion Strategy’s Steve Allen described the figures as “mixed” but “a pretty good result overall” with weekly magazines “slowing their rate of attrition, moving from a near 10% drop a year to just 1% now (-0.97%).”

But the presence of the near year old ACP title, Grazia played a big part, adding 3% by itself to the improvement.

Grazia sold 66,240 a week, well down on early hopes for sales closer to 80,000 a week. ACP spent a reported $7 million on the launch of the title.