Total circulation and distribution figures show the regional press now sells and distributes 76m newspapers every week.
The latest ABC figures show that half of all regional press titles under its membership have increased circulation over the past year, the weeklies showing the strongest progress.
The figures are also seen as a truer indication of sales with the industry reducing bulk sales and the number of discounted copies.
Fifty-five per cent of all paid weeklies in ABC have increased circulation, compared with 32 per cent six years ago, and 48 per cent of all regional press titles in ABC have shown sales increases compared with 29 per cent six years ago.
Paul Davidson, chief executive of Newsquest Media Group, said: “We have been operating a policy of taking bulk sales out of our figures – this action has resulted in a reduction of overall numbers.
“However, we have some strong sales, particularly on our weekly titles, and with these go impressive household penetration. We will continue to invest in all our titles and the comments we are hearing from our communities tell us this is being appreciated.”
Tim Bowdler, chief executive of Johnston Press, said: “Johnston Press has continued its policy of reducing bulk sales during the second half of 2001.
“Our efforts are closely focused on achieving an increase in actively purchased copies and, as part of this initiative, we continue to invest heavily in strong editorial quality.
“This policy has helped Johnston Press to continue its record of sales growth for its weekly titles and to improve the underlying performance of its evenings.”
The regional press has achieved its highest actively purchased sales figures, reaching 98 per cent actively purchased, 96 per cent sold at full cover price.
There are now 500,000 more readers of regional newspapers than this time last year and regional press sales exceeded £769 million in 2000, up 12 per cent on the previous year.
Chris Boyd, chief executive of ABC commented: “The latest results from the regional press show a strong performance by a number of the titles, especially within the weekly sector.
“Given current market conditions and the strong competition from other media, this is a good achievement. Overall the regional press is continually focusing on actively purchased activity which is excellent for the industry.”
Check on the up-to-date evening paper circulation data here.
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