Overview by Fiona Booth - Research Manager
The national newspaper market had a small turn in fortunes this month, posting overall circulation increases on December 2011 in both the daily and the Sunday market of 3.1% and 1.0% respectively. Looking across the year, however, it’s still a little gloomy in press land, with daily sales down 8.1% and Sunday sale down a pretty chunky 17.7% compared to January 2011 thanks to the yet-to-be-filled void left by the closure of News of the World back in July.
The qualities were, collectively, up by 1.2% on last month, but down 8.8% on last year. The mid-market titles held up this month and saw no change in overall circulation on December, but are down 3% when compared to January 2011. The populars had the best month on one hand, up 4.1% on last month, but the worst on the other, down 19.7% on last January without the News of the World.
The highest circulating newspaper is still The Sun, posting a circulation figure in January of 2,751,219. The Sun also added the most physical sales in January, to the tune of an extra 220,376 on December. However, that’s still short of the 250,603 it’s down compared to last January when it’s circulation was over the 3 million mark, perversely making it the biggest loser of physical sales on an annual comparison basis.
The biggest percentage gain this month goes to i, up 10% on last month and a whopping 82% on this time last year when it posted its first audited figure. In the space of a year, i has comfortably overtaken its sister titles, The Independent and Independent on Sunday, as well as leapfrogging rival quality The Guardian for the first time.
While the i rides (a little) higher The Independent sinks (a lot) lower, posting the lowest circulation figure amonst all the nationals this January as it fell 2% on last month and 37% on last year. However, a little digging into the figures shows that bulk shifting between sister titles has played no small part in this reversal of fortunes. i’s bulks in January 2011 amounted to 7,770 compared to 47,145 in January 2012, whereas The Independent’s bulks shrank from 73,120 to 43,314 over the same period.
The biggest loser this month by physical sales was the Sunday Express, down 18,983 copies on December, which is a shame as the publication had made some good gains after the News of the World’s closure, and is currently up 10% on January 2011. The Financial Times, however, saw the biggest percentage drop in sales, down 4.2% on last month.
Looking at how the nationals are faring compared to this time last year, the circulation winners are all the beneficiaries of the News of the World’s demise. The Sunday Mirror is scooping up an additional 660,386 sales compared to January 2011 and was the biggest seller this month amongst the Sunday populars, whilst the Daily Star Sunday has doubled its circulation over the same period.