The People newspaper is only staying above the important 2 million sales mark because of Mirror Group’s use of bulk sales (distributing large numbers of copies for free).
In the September Audit Bureau of Circulations figures released this week, The People’s headline circulation is 2,069,056. But for full price copies – regarded by agencies as an indication of “real” circulation – the figure is 1,983,577.
Mirror Group began supporting the circulation of its tabloid Sunday newspapers with a bulk sale of 38,943 for the Sunday Mirror in May 1995. Last month the Sunday Mirror carried a bulk sale of 82,312 and sold 2,426,415 at full price.
Once a newspaper uses a bulk sale, it has to continue, to prevent its headline figure looking as if it has had a major fall. Without the bulks, in September The People would have a 5.5 fall per cent year on year instead of two per cent. The Sunday Mirror circulation decline would be 6.5 per cent, rather than the current 3.3 per cent.