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ABC Analysis: December 2011


By Carat on Media..., Media

January 17, 2012 | 5 min read

Overview by Angela Peacock, Account Executive - Press

Happy New Year! It’s all back to normal after the festive break, but not before we take a look at the last monthly circulation figures for 2011.

There were some encouraging figures from the populars over December, but it’s not been quite so rosy for the other titles. However, circulations do tend to drop over the Christmas period so the declining figures aren’t entirely unexpected. Overall, the national newspaper market fell by 2.5% on November’s circulation figures. However, compared to a year ago, the figures are down a hefty 10% due in no small part to the exit of the News of the World.

Mid market

The Mid Markets are down by a slight 0.5% when compared to the same month last year, and down just over 2 % when compared to last month.

Year on year the greatest growth came from the Sunday Express, up a healthy 15% to circulation of over 626k. Compared to last month, however, the circulation was down 4.8%, not to dampen the mood or anything… It’s sister title, the Daily Express, has shown a small decline on last month of 1.1%, and down just over 4% on the same time last year.

The Daily Mail saw circulation slip just under 2 million this month, with the title posting declines of 0.3% on November, and 1.8% on last December. The Mail on Sunday fared even worse, down 3.4% compared to last month and 2.2% to last year.


The quality market over December was pretty disappointing with all titles posting circulation decreases versus last month and last year. Overall, the quality market is down by 1.9% compared to November and 4.5% compared to December 2010.

The FT, which saw a healthy rise of 3.8% in November, has fallen back this month by just over 1%. Compared to the same time last year, the figures are less positive with a drop in circulation of 14.4%, a loss of 56,350 copies since last December.

The biggest annual loss across the national newspaper market was seen by the Independent which has posted a huge decline in circulation of 31% since December 2010, equating to 55,451 copies. This decline over the year, however, can be attributed in a large part to the shift in bulk copies from the Independent to its sister title, i, which has seen corresponding increases in its figures over recent months as a result..

The Guardian was the only quality title to enjoy a boost in December, with circulation up 1.6% compared to last month.


Overall, the popular market is down just over 18% on December 2010 and down 3% compared to last month. But there are some great results here for the Sunday tabloids, with the Sunday Mirror, People, and Daily Star Sunday recording fantastic figures when compared to the same period last year. The most notable of these is the Daily Star Sunday with a massive 90% increase bringing its circulation to 640,406, whilst the People and Sunday Mirror have both enjoyed year on year increases of over 60%.

However, this growth on the back of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, whilst encouraging at first glance, is somewhat tempered when you consider that the Sunday populars as a whole are down 1.3m sales without the News of the World. In effect, half of the News of the World’s readers haven’t picked up a replacement read since the title closed.

Despite a loss in circulation of 3.6% on November, the Sun is still the most popular national daily newspaper with daily sales of over 2.5 million copies in December.


The overall newspaper market in Scotland is down compared to both the previous month (-2.6%) and the same time last year (-10%).

The Sunday Mail will be disappointed again at a 2.3% decline on last month’s figures, bringing their ABC to 352,285. Compared to last year, the title has seen circulation growth of 4.07% versus December 2010 which, although goods news, will be a disappointment for the Sunday Mail as the demise of the News of World has not created the circulation increases they would have been hoping for. However, The Sunday Mail is still the biggest selling title in Scotland.

Predictably (like the past few months), compared to this last time last year the big winners in Scotland are the Daily Star Sunday with a fantastic increase of 123%, The People with a massive 87% increase, and the Sunday Mirror with a none too shabby uplift of 70%. Whilst these titles are reaping the benefits from the New of the World on an annual comparison basis, they have all suffered monthly declines, like most other titles, down 2.6%, 3.9% and 3.3% respectively.

Amongst the Scottish indigenous titles, the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday have suffered this month, with circulation dropping 6% and 5.7% respectively when compared to this time last year. The Scotsman’s circulation in December was 38,159, the lowest monthly figure recorded in pretty much living memory (where living memory = 1998!)

The Herald is down almost 10% this month versus December 2010. Although nothing to write home about, it has seen marginal growth of 0.3% since last month. The Sunday Herald sadly is still hemorrhaging circulation, down 3% on last month and a massive 27% on last year. Its current circulation is 28,708, which has to beg the question, how long can the title sustain these declines?


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