ABCs: Circulation of The Observer drops 23%

Circulation of The Observer fell by more than 23 per cent year-on-year in its first full month after relaunching, figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations reveal.

The Observer had an average circulation of 331,488 each week in March, a drop of 23.9 per cent from the same month the previous year and its lowest figure since August 1962, as all but one quality Sunday paper suffered double-digit falls.

Circulation of The Observer, which is the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, fell by just under 100,000 copies from the 431,017 it circulated in March last year, however, in the intervening period it has ceased the sale of bulks – copies readers can pick up free from hotels, airlines and gyms – of which it distributed 22,737 in March, 2009.

The Observer, which relaunched in a slimmed down version on 21 February, has also been scaling down its overseas sale. It was cut from 36,645 in March last year to 19,018 last month – a reduction of 17,627.

Overall the joint circulation of all quality Sunday papers dropped 12.40 per cent year-on-year last month with only the Independent on Sunday avoiding a double-digit drop. Its circulation fell by 8.03 per cent year-on-year to a weekly average of 154,285.

The Sunday Times recorded a circulation drop of 10.38 per cent year-on-year to an average weekly circulation of 1,111,660 last month – it remained the biggest selling quality Sunday paper.

The fall in circulation of Sunday Times can, in part, be explained by it ending the sale of the few bulks it distributed and a reduction in its overseas sale from 50,696 in March, 2009, to 43,421 last month.

Last March the paper’s sales were also increased as it gave away an 11 track Noel Gallagher CD mid-month.

The Sunday Telegraph recorded a fall in circulation of 11.79 per cent year-on-year last month to a weekly average of 509,754.

Falls in the Sunday market were almost matched in the daily quality sector where all papers, bar the Financial Times, recorded a double-digit circulation decline.

National morning quality

The Daily Telegraph 686,679 -10.21

Financial Times 401,286 -6.41

The Guardian 283,063 -16.98

The Independent 184,137 -10.31

The Times 502,436 -16.29

National Sunday quality

Independent on Sunday 154,285 -8.03

The Observer 331,488 -23.09

The Sunday Telegraph 509,754 -11.79

The Sunday Times 1,111,660 -10.38

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