Walmart removes Cosmo from checkout stands

Arkansas-based multinational retailer Walmart has announced it will remove all 5,000 copies of Cosmopolitan magazine from its checkout stands in the US. In a statement, Walmart said the move was "primarily a business decision."


Rapper Cardi B features on the cover of Cosmo's April 2018 issue - Cosmo, Hearst Communications Inc.

The retailer said that the magazine will "no longer be located in the checkout aisles," but it will continue to be sold in other areas of the store, explaining that, "As with all products in our store, we continue to evaluate our assortment and make changes."

The decision could, indeed, be business-motivated, as sales of the magazine have fallen drastically. MarketWatch reports that four years ago, Hearst's Cosmopolitan was selling just under 600,000 copies a month at checkout counters and newstands. By December of last year, sales had tumbled 67% percent, to under 200,000 copies sold per month.

Part of this steep decline is due to the growing trend that single-copy sales of magazines for young women nationally have been dropping 20% per year.

In the specific case of Walmart, there is also the issue of Cosmo's content as it relates to the retail chain's core store consumer.

According to reports, the move was made after Walmart considered opinions expressed by conservative group, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), which fights media it argues is pornographic.

In a press release lauding Walmart's decision, NCOSE Executive Director Dawn Hawkins said, "This is what real change looks like in our MeToo culture," appropriating the name of the recent MeToo movement which aims to combat sexual harassment. Hawkins claimed that the magazine objectifies women and leads to conditions that allow and encourage the kind of abuse that MeToo seeks to combat.

Rapper Cardi B is on the cover of Cosmo's April 2018 issue. In an interesting counterpoint to NCOSE's condemnation of the magazine's message, she discusses themes of women's independence in her interview, explaining her own thoughts on MeToo and advocating female empowerment, saying, "I’m not your property."

Cosmo ascended to its current pop culture status in the 60's when Helen Gurley Brown took over its messaging. She turned it into an exciting publication focusing on the revolutionary ideas of sex and femininity outside of marriage. According to Hearst, Cosmo now covers "fashion, sex advice, dating tips and celebrity news."

This is not the first time Cosmo has been removed from certain retail spaces. Various issues have been pulled off shelves for showing too much skin, while some retailers display the magazine behind blinders similar to those seen for adult interest magazines.

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