The Sun’s 20p price-cutting strategy helped it achieve a second consecutive year-on-year rise in circulation in February – with sales up 0.15 per cent to 3,077,060.
Some 976,557 copies were sold at a discount – mainly in Scotland and the south-east of England – meaning The Sun’s circulation rise comes at a huge cost in terms of lost copy sales’ revenue.
The Sun has been discounting in some regions – Scotland and north-west England – for more than 12 months.
The paper’s managing editor Graham Dudman said the rise was not simply down to price-cutting but also good journalism and effective marketing.
‘We are absolutely delighted by our second consecutive year-on-year monthly increase,’he said.
‘For anyone to dismiss this purely as price-cutting is plain wrong. We were price-cutting last year and the reason The Sun is up year on year is because of fantastic journalism and great marketing and promotion.”
Hits with readers
He pointed to stories such as the video of Paul Burrell admitting he lied to the Princess Diana inquest and coverage of three high-profile murder cases as being big hits with readers in the past month.
The Sun was also helped by three major promotions: an Only Fools and Horses DVDs give-away; the £19.50 holidays voucher promotion and the High School 2 DVD give away.
The other stand-out performer in the national dailies is The Financial Times – which again put on sales year on year, this time by 0.69 per cent to 448,342.
Far from price-cutting, the FT‘s sales rise has come after raising the cover price from £1 to £1.50. It sold 137,945 copies in the UK and Ireland; 152,240 in the US, 123,287 in Europe and 34,871 in Asia.
The Evening Standard was able to display a 8.31 per cent year-on-year circulation rise to 288,157, helped by an increase in bulk give-away copies. An average of 99,913 Evening Standard copies a day were given away as bulks in February.
The long-term circulation trends show an improving picture in many areas of the national press compared with a year ago.
Last month, the red tops were down 1.5 per cent year-on-year overall compared with a 3.57 per cent drop in February 2007.
Mid-market titles were down 2.55 per cent year on year compared with 5.07 per cent last year, the Sunday redtops were down 4.06 per cent compared with 2007’s 7.76 per cent, and the Sunday qualities were down 2.71 per cent, compared with 7.07 per cent in 2007.
The picture was a worsening one in February for the quality dailies – which were down 3.15 per cent year on year compared with 2.12 per cent in the same period last year.