National ABCs: Guardian still on top, but all change in Scotland

The July heatwave and the tail end of the World Cup evidently did nothing for newspaper sales — with every sector down year on year.

The usual suspects are at the top of Press Gazette's league table of year-on-year paid-for sales growth, with The Guardian (up 4.91%), Observer (+4.45%) and Independent on Sunday (+3.12%) all benefiting from the fact that they have had costly relaunches in new formats since July 2005.

The only other paper in the plus was the Financial Times (+1.66%) helped by continuing growth in its overseas sales.

Most papers suffered from being up against strong figures from last year, prompted by the 7 July bombings.

This was particularly true for the Evening Standard (-22.35%) which had an exceptional July last year.

The big story of the month was The Scottish Sun overtaking the Daily Record for the first time in its history. The result ends the 32-year reign for the Record as the top-selling newspaper in Scotland.

An aggressive price-cutting strategy for The Sun, with it selling for 10p a copy, put it 9,575 ahead of the Record in Scotland with 393,953 daily sales.

The Scottish Sun's editor, David Dinsmore, who returned from holiday in the USA on Friday to have the expected good news officially confirmed, said: "It was what everyone here has been working for."

Scottish-born Dinsmore began his national newspaper career on The Scottish Sun as a casual reporter in 1990, and was night editor at The Sun's London HQ before returning to Scotland in February to replace Rob Dalton, who was appointed head of editorial development at The Sun.

He pointed out that The Scottish Sun has been closing the gap on the Record for 20 years — when it stood at around 600,000. And he said he plans to carry on building sales.

He said the paper's success was down to journalism, and highlighted the fact that most page leads and splashes are now locally produced Scottish stories.

He also said that the all-Scottish roster of columnists has helped.

Dinsmore said he thought The Scottish Sun gained an edge over the Record by having the benefit of the London-based Bizarre showbiz team for national and international celeb stories.

Mark Hollinshead, managing director of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail, said in a message to staff: "The Daily Record always experiences a seasonal downturn in sales in July. Obviously, there will be lots of back slapping at the Glasgow offices of The Sun. Their celebrations will be short-lived. This is a temporary position."

Hollinshead attributes The Scottish Sun selling at 10p as the single reason why it is selling as many copies as it currently does, and has claimed that it is costing the Murdoch empire £1.5m a month.

He said: "Our own sales estimates demonstrate that if the Daily Record was 10p we'd be selling almost 550,000 copies.

"In Scotland, in terms of numbers of newspapers sold at full cover price, the Daily Record is clear number one, Daily Mail number two, Herald third best seller, with The Sun in fourth position.

"We have reams of testimonials and research case studies to prove this."

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