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Weeklies continue to enjoy sales success

Weekly newspapers are continuing to enjoy rises in circulation, with more than half of all weekly titles increasing sales year on year, according to the latest ABC figures for the regional press.

Figures released for the first six months of this year show that more than 75 per cent of regional newspapers have now stripped out bulk sales entirely, with a concerted effort to concentrate on actively purchased sales.

This policy of removing bulk sales and discounted copies contributed to some modest declines within the dailies, which were also affected by the Iraq war.

But there were some notable successes, including the Basildon-based Evening Echo, the South Wales Argus, the Southend Evening Echo, the Exeter Express & Echo and the Western Daily Press.

And some evenings, such as the Southern Daily Echo, Manchester Evening News and Hull Daily Mail, have grown their actively purchased sale (base sale) although their headline sales have decreased.

For the weeklies, the Esher News & Mail and Derry News were the highest circulation growers, and key successes among the larger weekly titles included the Mansfield Chad, Doncaster Free Press, Derry Journal, Barnsley Chronicle, Wakefield Express and the Derbyshire Times.

The Kentish Express posted its tenth consecutive ABC increase for the January to June period.

John Robertson, president of the Newspaper Society and deputy chairman of the Newbury Weekly News said: “Local news is our lifeblood; the regional press has an army of thousands of journalists gathering news and information about their local communities, generating debate and spearheading campaigns.

“Many newspapers have shown that investment in quality editorial can translate into sales success.”

Kevin Beatty, managing director of Northcliffe Newspapers Group and chairman of the Newspaper Society’s Marketing Committee, said: “Despite the ever increasing array of media options available to consumers today, the regional press is stronger than ever, with 1,300 regional and local newspapers continuing to be valued and appreciated by their communities in every corner of the UK.

“The fact that nearly half of all regional titles are building sales year-on-year – while other media are fighting to retain share – is testimony to the relevance and resilience of the regional press.”

  • Readership of regional and local newspapers is growing, with 39.9 million adults now reading a local paper, according to figures published by Target Group Index – a year-on-year increase of 1.8 per cent.

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    ©NEP 2003