The Mail on Sunday reported the smallest drop in print circulation in December – but this was still down by 9% on the year before.
It had an average circulation of 954,497 in December 2019, down to 865,439 last month. It was the only newspaper not to see a double-digit year-on-year decline, with the Observer the second smallest drop (by 10% to 147,296).
- October 16, 2020
- September 18, 2020
- August 24, 2020
The Financial Times saw its print circulation fall by more than a third (35%) year-on-year to 105,358 – the biggest fall among the UK’s paid-for national newspapers.
However the FT did grow by 1% month-on-month as it continues to recover from the initial Covid-19 lockdown slump common to each of the titles.
The Guardian saw the biggest month-on-month growth of 2% in December.
The biggest fall from November 2020 was at the Sunday People, down 5% to 120,429.
Wales went into lockdown on 20 December while Scotland and Northern Ireland were placed under tight restrictions from Boxing Day and much of London and the south east of England entered strict Tier 4 restrictions days before Christmas.
Metro and the Evening Standard, which had their free commuter distribution models hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns, were still 45% and 38% down respectively on the previous year’s print readership.
Scroll down for new graphs charting the ups and downs of the UK national press in the past 20 years – with a spotlight on how Covid-19 affected circulations.
National newsbrand circulations in November 2020 (ABC) with monthly and yearly changes – this page will be updated monthly:
The above figures do not include the Sun, Times and Telegraph titles which have all chosen to keep their ABC circulations private since the start of 2020. The column for bulks refers to copies which are circulated for free at venues like airports and hotels.
2020 in focus
These charts show the steep effect the first Covid-19 national lockdown, announced on 23 March, had on the UK’s national newspapers – and the slow recovery ever since.
The free daily Metro was by far the hardest hit as commuters disappeared from train stations and other key locations almost overnight. Circulation had started to bounce back as publisher DMGT begun to ramp up distribution again however, the title faced a small slump in circulation in November.
Most paid-for titles have seen similar trends in both the effect of Covid-19 and the slow pace of recovery since April.
We have also charted the longer-term change in ABC circulation over the past 20 years across the UK press.
These charts show the extent of the print decline from the The Sun reaching 3.76m in 2000 and the Sun on Sunday’s launch in February 2012 with a short-lived 3.21m before dropping to just above 2m.
Meanwhile, though the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail once were competitive in print reach at around 2.3m-2.4m in 2000, the Mail now has a circulation three times the size of its former rival.
The Sunday tabloids all saw a spike in 2011 after the closure of the News of the World but few retained the readers – the Sunday People and Sunday Mirror did best at doing so, but largely lost them when the Sun on Sunday launched.
These charts will be updated each month to include the latest figures.
Several national newsbrands managed a month on month increase in print circulation in November, with The Observer seeing the biggest rise at 4%.
The Observer’s print circulation rose from 145,680 to 152,129 having remained steady in the previous month.
The Sunday Express, the Sunday People and the Guardian also saw print sales rise 1%, after seeing declines between September and October
The Observer saw the smallest year-on-year decline at 5%. It was the only title not to report a double-digit year-on-year fall.
The Financial Times had the biggest paid-for decline (36% to 104,024) followed by the i (31% to 151,888).
Metro and the Evening Standard, which had their free commuter distribution models hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns, were still 46% and 40% down on the previous year’s print readership.
The Observer was the only national print newspaper brand not to see a year on year print circulation decline in October.
The Observer’s print readership remained steady on 145,680 as every other title except the Mail on Sunday, which fell by 9%, reported a double-digit year-on-year decline.
The Financial Times had the biggest paid-for decline (39% to 105,592) followed by the i (31% to 151,888).
Metro and the Evening Standard, which had their free commuter distribution models hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns, were still 45% and 39% down on the previous year’s print readership – although Metro managed to add a fifth back onto its output in October.