Times edges up as Guardian dips to lowest for 27 years

By Dominic Ponsford

The Guardian fell to its lowest circulation figure since June 1978
last month, suggesting its long-awaited Berliner-size relaunch, planned
for the autumn, can’t come soon enough.

It was the worst-performing national daily in the Audit Bureau of
Circulations monthly figures, dropping 6.99 per cent year-on-year to
361,408.

A Guardian spokesman said: “As part of our ongoing
commitment to transparency, we are the only quality title not to
increase our ABC through adding bulks/international copies.

“We
aren’t investing in promotion at the moment as we focus on the Autumn
launch of the Berliner – this has a marked impact on sale.”

The
Times’ compact format has continued to win it new readers and it was
the top-performing national paper in June, up 3.35 per cent
year-on-year to 683,495. It is still well behind The Daily Telegraph,
whose headline ABC figure for June remained steady at 903,772.

However, The Times is ahead of its rival on full-price sales at 510,572 compared with 488,393.

The
Independent this week proudly trumpeted its 21st consecutive month of
year-on-year circulation growth since launching a compact version – up
0.21 per cent year-on-year to 261,575.

But a closer look at the
paper’s ABC certificate suggests that editor Simon Kelner’s compact
revolution may be running out of steam. Full-rate sales are down 5.17
per cent year-on-year to 185,282 – the top line circulation has been
boosted with the aid of 5,865 extra multiple copies (given away at
places such as airports and hotels) and an extra 2,630 copies
circulated outside the UK.

Steep declines among the red-top and
mid-market titles partly reflect last year’s sales boost provided by
the Euro 2004 football tournament. Between them, these titles gave away
17 free CDs and two DVDs last month, with mixed results. The People
fell 9.04 per cent year-on-year to 913,618 and was hardly helped by a
free Frank Sinatra CD, which industry estimates reckon gave it only an
extra 20,000 sales.

By contrast, a free Oasis CD in the Daily Mirror has been estimated to have generated an extra 350,000 sales.

The
Sunday Express may be feeling the effects of having its S:2 supplement
axed in March. Last month it was 7.04 per cent down year-on-year to
931,608.

Another title that appears to be feel- ing the effects
of editorial cutbacks is national sports weekly Football First, which
was down 30.25 per cent year-onyear to 14,289. In January, it dropped
three of its big-name columnists. Five years ago it was selling nearly
90,000.

Paid-for sales of the Evening Standard were sharply down
again following the launch of a free Lite lunchtime edition, dropping
12.19 per cent year-on-year to 332,524. But when the 76,831
distribution of Lite is taken into account, Associated Newspapers can
argue that sales may be down but readership is up.

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