Traditionally, December is often a poor month for newspaper circulation as the holiday season disturbs purchase patterns, but last month’s figures were exacerbated by distribution problems and purchasers unwilling to leave their homes in the bad weather.
The overall average net circulation for popular titles dropped 5.47% month on month and 4.75% year on year, for the six months July to December, despite titles consistently covering ITV’s X Factor, which received record viewing figures for its finale last month.
The Sun, which published an iPad edition on Christmas Day, the first ever 25 December issue in its history, dropped 3.56% for the six months, year on year, to its 10-year-low circulation of 2,717,013. The Daily Mirror fell 3.75% to 1,133,440 and dropped 7.18% year on year. The Daily Star, which increased its cover price last year, saw a drop of 5.69% to 713,602 month on month.
In the mid-market, the Daily Mail hit a 10-year circulation low for the title and is dangerously close to dropping below its psychological benchmark of 2m readers, with a fall of 3.33% to 2,030,968, down 1.83% year on year. However, the Associated Newspapers title did record its highest ever ABC market share during the month. The Daily Express fell 2.5% month on month to 623,689 and is down 8.11% year on year.
In the quality market, circulations dropped across all titles, with an overall decrease of 2.95% month on month and 11.6% plummet for the six month period, year on year.
There were fears the launch of the i newspaper in October could cannibalise The Independent’s sales. The i has delayed releasing its circulation figures until February due to distribution issues contributing to an unstable sales picture. The Independent has held up relatively well, with circulation down 1.48% month on month to 175,002 and down 3.49% year on year.
The Daily Telegraph’s circulation fell 3.29% to 631,280 month on month, again a record low for the past 10 years, and the title is down 15.46% year on year. The Guardian dipped 2.13% to 264,819 month on month and is down 12.66% year on year. The Times, which introduced its pay wall for online content in July, saw its print edition circulation fall 3.83% to 448,463 and is down 15.15% year on year.
The Financial Times saw circulation slip 2.64% to 390,121 month on month, down 3.26% year on year.
The national Sunday market also suffered circulation decreases. The Observer dropped 4.4% month on month to 301,457, down a substantial 16.23% year on year, The Sunday Times fell 4.2% to 1,008,163 from November, The Independent on Sunday fell slightly by 0.33% to 150,437 and The Sunday Telegraph dropped 2.22% to 490,322.
Among the Sunday tabloid titles, the News of the World, which is currently being investigated for alleged phone hacking, fell 5.54% to 2,600,985 and the Sunday Mirror dropped 2.12% to 1,047,363. In the Sunday mid-market, the Mail on Sunday fell below the 2 million mark for the second consecutive month with circulation slipping 1.69% to 1,951,783.