National ABCs: Observer circulation down 12%

Circulation of the troubled Observer newspaper tumbled 12 per cent year on year last month - partly due to it axing bulks - as revelations emerged that its owners were considering closing the title.

The Guardian News and Media-published Sunday paper circulated 361,761 copies in August as all but one of the titles in the quality Sundays market recorded a year on year sales dip, according to figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

GNM announced last month that it would stop selling bulk copies of its Guardian and Observer titles - copies that readers can pick up free from hotels, airlines and gyms, which pay a nominal fee to the publisher. Removing bulks sales figure has contributed to the Observer's circulation fall.

The Observer is the only quality Sunday paper to have removed bulks from its top line circulation figure. Last month, bulk sales boosted total circulation of the Independent on Sunday by 35,577, the Sunday Telegraph by 67,387 and 18,755 for the Sunday Times.

The Observer circulated 49,483 fewer papers last month than in August, 2008. However last year's circulation figure included the sale of 28,178 bulks.

Removing those bulks sales from the total 411,244 copies the Observer circulated in August last year, its year on year drop fell to 5.6 per cent.

However, in addition to the end of bulk sales the figures released today by the ABC also marked the first full month's circulation since GNM took the decision in July to drop the Observer's TV section.

Guardian Media Group, parent company of GNM, admitted last month a review of the business it was conducting would consider 'all options' following revelations in the Sunday Times that it was mulling the closure of the Observer.

The Sunday Times was the only Sunday quality paper to grow its year on year sales last month. Its circulation was 1,164,831, a climb of just 0.72 per cent from August last year.

The Sunday Telegraph recorded a circulation fall of 3.1 per cent year on year last month to 599,131.

The Independent on Sunday remained the worst performing quality Sunday title as it continued its heavy downward spiral as sales plummeted 18.3 per cent year on year to a new low of 160,809.

National newspaper circulation, August 2009 (source ABC)

Daily quality papers:

Daily Telegraph: 814,087, down 5.4 per cent

Financial Times: 395,845, down 5.2 per cent

The Guardian: 311,387, down 6.4 per cent

The Independent: 187,837, down 18.3 per cent

The Times: 576,185, down 6.0 per cent

Daily Sunday papers:

Independent on Sunday: 160,809, down 18.3 per cent

The Observer: 361,761, down 12 per cent

The Sunday Telegraph: 599,131, down 3.1 per cent

The Sunday Times: 1,164,831, down 0.72 per cent

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