AAFES Removing 'Adult Sophisticate' Magazines

Published in CSP Daily News

Army & Air Force Exchange Service using space to adjust merchandising in other categories

By  Greg Lindenberg, Online Editor

DALLAS -- Soldiers looking for "adult sophisticate" magazines will not be able to find them on Army or Air Force bases anymore, reported The Wall Street Journal. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) has nixed the sale of magazines for a mature readership including Playboy, Penthouse and American Curves. As of Wednesday, the exchanges, which are a combination of department store and convenience store found on military bases, will no longer sell any of the 48 magazines that make up the category.

The adult magazines are part of a list of 891 magazines of all categories that the exchanges will no longer offer. Others being dropped include Arabian Horse World, Chess Life and Good Old Boat, said the report.

"This was purely a business decision on our part," Chris Ward, a spokesperson for AAFES, told the newspaper.

He said that AAFES had not necessarily carried all 891 titles at all of its 1,155 locations world-wide (including eight in Iraq and 34 in Afghanistan), but that they were the ones available to be stocked according to the manager's discretion and input from regional and national distribution experts.

"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, the Exchange adjusted its stock assortment to align offerings with industry counterparts. Effective July 31, 2013, the Exchange removed a total of 891 magazines from its stock assortment, and reduced the space for this category by 33% to align offerings with those shoppers would expect to find at major civilian retailers," spokesperson Judd Anstey told CSP Daily News.

Sales of the adult sophisticate category of magazines at Exchange locations have declined 86% since 1998. As of 2012, all adult sophisticate titles represented only .014% of all sales at Exchange facilities, he said.

Adult sophisticate titles demanded added expenses due to specialized handling costs such as ordering and contract requirements and regulations specific to merchandising, such as displaying "adult reading material" only on top shelves with a panel that must be added to the display fixture that lets no more than the title show. These titles also required continuous monitoring to ensure unapproved titles did not inadvertently make their way to shelves.

"Additional handling and merchandise costs, the proliferation of digital delivery and opportunities to introduce emerging categories, and placing popular brands in reclaimed space necessitated the removal of adult sophisticate titles from Exchange facilities," said Anstey.

The policy change follows closely after a July 22 letter from F. E. Vollrath, assistant defense secretary for readiness and force management, to the advocacy group Morality in Media Inc., in which Vollrath said adult sophisticate magazines, if properly displayed, are not considered to be sexually explicit material and therefore can be sold on Department of Defense property.

The change in policy only affects the Army and Air Force exchanges. A spokesperson for the Marine Corps' Exchange system told the Journal that the Marine and Navy's on-base magazine selection will remain unchanged.

Beyond magazines, the AAFES is also adjusting its stock assortment in a variety of categories including giftware, DVDs, video games and music. This new space will be dedicated to emerging categories and popular brands that can increase sales and generate additional earnings, Anstey told CSP Daily News.