The better performers in the daily sector were the smaller newspapers, while the big city papers shed the most readers. The overall sales in the evening market dropped 5.6 per cent on last year, while in the morning sector they were down 4 per cent.
Four regional evening papers reported positive ABC figures compared to three in the last period: the Scunthorpe Telegraph (up 3.5 per cent), the Swindon Advertiser (up 2.4 per cent), the Oxford Mail (up 1.3 per cent) and the Guernsey Press & Star (up 1.1 per cent).
Among the big city evenings, only four out of the 10 most populated UK cities outside London performed better than the industry average of 5.6 per cent: the Glasgow Evening Times (down 1.9 per cent), the Bristol Evening Post (down 4.4 per cent), the Edinburgh Evening News (down 4.9 per cent), and the Leicester Mercury (down 5.2 per cent).
The worst hit of the big city papers was the Sheffield Star, down 9.2 per cent on top of a 6.7 per cent drop in the last period after the paper began printing 15 miles away in Dinnington.
Editor Alan Powell said: ‘Printing on a remote sight immediately gave us problems with the logistics of transport but it has settled down now. When we look back to this time last year, Sheffield United had just gone into the Premiership and there was a tremendous buzz around the city. But by the same token they have now dropped a division and we are back where we were.’Powell said that the paper’s year-on-year decline is currently running at around five per cent.
All the daily titles whose circulation was 20,000 or below posted circulation falls less than the industry average of -4 per cent, with the exception of smaller circulation titles the Doncaster Star (down 11.8 per cent) and the Paisley Daily Express (down 7.4 per cent), as well as the Liverpool Daily Post (down 10.5 per cent). The drops for Liverpool Daily Post and the Manchester Evening News (down 24.2 per cent to 86,923), were due to their part-paid, part-free strategies.
Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson’s £1 million ‘back to basics’relaunch in October 2005 to target the ethnic communities in the city may finally have started to turn the corner, following a comparatively small 5.98 per cent dip in sales on Monday to Saturday. The figure follows declines of 11.9, 17.5 and 13.1 per cent in the consecutive ABC audits after relaunch. The decline represents a positive year-on-year swing of 11 per cent.
‘We turned from no editions to seven geographical editions and we had to ensure the people were getting the right one,’explained Dyson.
‘In some areas such as Solihull we had to put in three different editions so it’s not been easy. We have started to turn it round decisively.”
Monday to Friday’s figure dipped 1 per cent, highlighting the loss in sales from Saturday’s Sports Argus. Integrated into the main book, the Argus now misses many of the day’s results. Dyson said: ‘If you take out the Sports Argus Monday to Saturday figure we are left with a 4.9 per cent, which is very healthy and probably among the best in the metropolitan dailies.”
The Birmingham Post’s new high-end business and lifestyle titles and a relaunch under new editor Marc Reeves have boosted sales. Up 1.1 per cent, the Post knocked the Irish News off the top spot in the morning sector for circulation growth for the first time in two consecutive periods.
l The Press & Journal, Aberdeen, maintains its position as the top seller in the morning sector, down 2.5 per cent to 81,872 followed by the Dundee Courier, while the Express and Star, Wolverhampton, has held on to its long-standing position as top regional evening seller, down 4.2 per cent to 143,522, followed by the Liverpool Echo down 7 per cent to 109,756.
The Cambridge Evening News was hit by a 7.9 per cent decline, making it one of the poorer performing evenings in terms of sales. An early ‘sunrise’edition launched in May in addition to two existing evening editions might not have had any significant impact as yet, as the ABC period was only audited until June.