UK daily newspapers have doubled in price since 2004 and shrunk in size - no wonder sales are down

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Every month when the latest set of ABC national newspaper circulation figures are released, journalists across the country heave a collective sigh of despair.

The rise of the internet, lack of interest from younger audiences and constant journalistic cut-backs are cited as potential causes for the fact that national newspaper sales have dropped, on average, by around 50 per cent in the last ten years.

But how much of this drop could simply be down to cover price rises, which have risen above inflation at all but four national papers – The Sun, Daily Star, Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express – over this period?

Since the onset of the economic downturn in 2008, newspapers have compensated for lack of advertising by increasing cover price. At the same time, less advertising has meant fewer pages and thinner papers.

The Guardian, for instance, has seen its circulation drop by 50 per cent since 2004, but its cover price has nearly tripled – from 55p to £1.60 – in this time.

All of the national ‘broadsheet’ daily newspapers have at least doubled their cover prices in this period and have generally fared worse than the tabloids in terms of circulation loss.

Though despite increasing their cover prices by much smaller amounts – both in percentage and real terms – the Daily Star, Daily Mirror and Daily Express have each seen their circulations drop by nearly 50 per cent in a decade.

Overall, daily national newspaper prices over this period have increased by an average of 94 per cent. Circulations, meanwhile, have decreased by 47 per cent on average. 

According to the calculator on Thisismoney, average retail prices have increased by a third over that period.

In general, the price rises of Sunday newspapers have been smaller than the dailies, with an average price increase of 53 per cent rather than 94 per cent.

The average UK national Sunday newspaper has lost 47 per cent of its circulation in ten years.

The charts below show how percentage market shares in the daily and Sunday markets have changed over the last ten years. 

There is no straight correlation between price rises and percentage market share loss, but it is worth noting that the Mail titles, The Sun and the Sunday Mirror have increased their shares in their respective markets by the greatest amounts and have also introduced some of the lowest percentage price rises over the last decade. 

The tables omit the News of the World, The Sun on Sunday and the i.

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