Consumer Reports Ends Two Publications

Alliance Alert – Consumer Reports Announces Discontinuance of Two Publications

May 29, 2015

Consumer Reports announced that it will end publication of its ShopSmart magazine and Money Adviser newsletter following the mailing of one final issue. This decision comes as the 79-year old nonprofit implements a new digital transformation strategy. The flagship Consumer Reports magazine will continue to be mailed to 3.6 million subscribers.

While increasing postage costs were not the only factor leading to this decision, they were a major contributor. According to Consumer Reports Director of Procurement Operations Meta Brophy, the relentless above-inflation postage increases that the Postal Service has imposed over the last three years were a “tipping point” in the decision to shift away from hard-copy publications in the mail.

The following chart shows the three-year cumulative postage increases imposed on the four Consumer Reports publications relative to the Consumer Price Index (CPI):


CR Rate Increase vs. Inflation

Even though the price cap for 2015 is slightly below 2 percent, meaning all periodicals must average no more than the cap, Consumer Reports is facing these one-time increases on May 31, 2015:

  • Consumer Reports:               7.0%
  • ShopSmart:                             2.2%
  • On Health newsletter:          14.9%
  • Money Adviser newsletter: 13.6%

Such a large variation from the average was not communicated to customers before the filing of the rate case, and so it came as a complete surprise.

We are very concerned that many other nonprofit publications will also be pushed out of the mail by abrupt, excessive rate increases. Many are in the same situation as Consumer Reports, facing postage increases on May 31 that are several times the rate of inflation.

The nonprofit community is losing confidence in its ability to project and budget for postage increases. It is sadly ironic that Consumer Reports, and others, cannot rely on the Consumer Price Index to forecast their postage costs! We urge new Postmaster General Megan Brennan to work with nonprofits to restore our belief that we can rely on the Postal Service for affordable, effective mail to raise funds, communicate with donors and members, deliver publications, and achieve our very important missions.

We urge the Postal Service to continue its primary mission to “bind the Nation together” as stated in the law:

The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.