ABC analysis: Readers prefer price cuts to poinsettias

Price cuts are more important than freebies. That’s the message from January’s ABC circulation figures.

The Daily Star was the only paper to record a year-on-year circulation increase, rising 6.3 per cent to 768,534.

It was also the only paper that was cheaper nationwide in January 2009 than January 2008 – from 35p down to 20p.

And – by coincidence? – it was also among the papers to offer the fewest freebies in January.

Last month, the Star gave away a free Kit Kat, a bottle of water, and cinema tickets – Scrooge-like compared to its rivals.

The Daily Mirror, for example, gave away two energy-saving lightbulbs, free food vouchers at Morrisons, High School Musical posters and trading cards, a Doctor Who year planner, and £1 National Express tickets. Its circulation was down 9.63 per cent year on year.

The Daily Telegraph gave away – deep breath – a money-saving book, half-price meals at Zizzi, a British birds and birdlife DVD, the book Revolutionary Road, four free children’s drinks worth £1.85, a bird care pack worth £20, the Barack Obama Story DVD, The Eagle Has Landed DVD, To Die For DVD, a strawberry collection worth £9.99, a Training Your Brain book, busy lizzies and DVD worth £25.97, a rose plant worth £7.99, free tickets to see the film Milk, 10 packets of seeds worth £18, a three-day pass at Fitness First, and finally – not that you’ll have the energy – a place in the Great North Run.

All that, and the Telegraph fell 5.3 per cent.

Will a rose plant worth £7.99, but subject to postage and packaging, make anyone buy a paper? The answer, seemingly, is no.

The only paper anywhere near as generous as the Telegraph was the Daily Express. It gave away a child road safety vest, shampoo, bottled water, gardening packs, a carton of Lidl orange juice, Olbas tissues, driving lessons, hot chocolate, and – best of all – a haircut.

The Express fell 2.17 per cent year on year. Not great, but better than all its daily rivals, bar The Sun.

Conclusions? All the Olbas tissues in the world will not add readers, only stem the bleeding. Other solutions are needed.

Answers on a postcard.

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