New figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations show a number of successes among regional titles.
Smaller daily titles have performed particularly well, and while some larger titles have been affected by the reduction in bulk sales, a number of them appear to have turned the corner.
Among them is the Liverpool Daily Post, which has recorded an impressive 4.2 per cent increase in sales, making it the best performing regional paid-for morning in the UK (ABC 20,199).
Its success follows a relaunch which included the reintroduction of the word ‘Liverpool’ to its masthead, after an absence of more than 25 years.
Several new and innovative supplements were launched, including the Post Match, Retail Therapy and Elegant Homes, and a major revamp of existing supplements also took place.
Editor Jane Wolstenholme said: “It has been a tremendous 12 months for the Liverpool Daily Post.
“Staff have worked exceptionally hard over the last year to not just make those initial changes, but to then sustain and even improve on quality – and our circulation performance reflects that.”
Of the evening papers, the Carlisle News & Star (East) performed the best, also recording a 4.2 per cent increase in sales (ABC 17,972).
Editor Keith Sutton said a team effort and earlier print times had given the paper a boost.
He said: “We have advanced our print time to give us greater shelf-life, so that our first edition now comes out at around 10.45am. This enables us to get in the shops in Carlisle before 11.30am most days. We’re finding that this in itself has helped to give us a few hundred more copies.
“Moving forward our print times, and therefore our deadlines, has involved huge efforts from our staff. It has been a huge team effort.”
The Teesside Evening Gazette (+0.5 per cent) has achieved its second consecutive circulation increase following a relaunch from broadsheet to compact last September.
And Newcastle’s Evening Chronicle (-0.3 per cent) has all but halted its rate of decline through an ambitious and effective home delivery programme.
Weekly paid-for newspapers continue to outperform the market, with around half of all weeklies again increasing their circulation figures year on year.
Best performers among the weeklies were the Monmouth Free Press, up 15 per cent (ABC 1,683), Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, up 14.8 per cent (ABC 12,033), and Frome & Somerset Standard, up 14.4 per cent (ABC 9,129).
Tom McConigley, editor of the Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette, said: “All the reporters always go that extra mile, and don’t just rewrite press releases. All of our staff get involved, and we have a highly motivated team.
“Our reporters are constantly looking at the sales figures to see where we could improve. Everyone’s involved.”
The figures for July to December 2004 also showed the Daily Record remains the UK’s largest regional morning, with an ABC of 478,980 and the London Evening Standard is the largest regional evening, with an ABC of 361,340.
The Sunday Mail in Scotland is the largest regional paid-for Sunday, The Sentinel Sunday (ABC 13,140) is the best performing regional paid-for Sunday, Metro London is the largest free regional morning and the Manchester Metro News is the largest free weekly.
The latest ABC figures also show the regional press is the one print sector to have successfully tackled the issue of bulk sales and discounted copies, with a massive 99.4 per cent of the sector’s total ABC circulation now actively purchased. Full rate sales have grown from 94 per cent to 98 per cent in the past five years.
Overall, 81 per cent of all regional and local newspapers are now posting 100 per cent actively purchased figures compared with 73 per cent in 2003. Evening newspapers have seen the greatest reduction in bulk sales of all regional titles, with their actively purchased figure growing from 93 per cent to 99 per cent in the past five years.
Newspaper Society communications director Lynne Anderson said: “Regional newspapers are in excellent health: readership continues to grow and new advertisers are coming into the medium because of its closeness to readers and its proven effectiveness.”