Just 13 paid-for weeklies across the UK recorded circulation increases in the final six months of 2012, the latest figures reveal.
The ABCs between July and December found that a total of 10 such papers in England, two in Northern Ireland and one in Scotland – zero in Wales – saw a rise in sales figures.
The best-performing paid-for weekly in England was the Brentwood Gazette, which reported an increase of 29.5pc, although more than a third of its circulation – 33.5pc – comes from free pick-ups.
The Gazette’s increase comes after the paper launched free edition for the Romford area in April last year.
The Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News also fared particularly well. It offers no free editions but still managed to increase sales by more than 15pc, up to 2,551.
Other English paid-for weeklies which increased circulation include the Gainsborough Standard, at 4.1pc; the Maidenhead Advertiser, at 3.2pc; the Gravesend & Dartford Messenger, at 2.2pc; and the Whitby Gazette, at 2.1pc.
The worst results were recorded at the fully paid-for Dover Express, which saw a massive 69.3pc drop in sales, down to 6,294.
Two fully paid-for papers in Northern Ireland saw a rise in the number of people buying a paper, with the North Belfast News reporting a 4.1pc rise to 4,371 copies sold a week and the Newtownards Chronicle & County Down Observer reporting a 0.2pc increase.
Scottish weekly the Arran Banner increased sales by 2.1pc, while all others in the country reported a drop. The Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette came off worst as sales fell by almost a quarter.
In Wales, the paper with the lowest fall in sales was the Denbighshire Free Press, which dropped just 3.8pc. Just under two per cent of its circulation is accounted for by free pick-ups.
The worst-off was the Gwent Gazette, which is 100pc paid-for and fell by 21.9pc.
By contrast, 88 free weekly newspapers reported increased or stable circulation, while 168 recorded drops. The Uxbridge & West Drayton Gazette, which is 77.5pc free, was the biggest success story of the report with a massive 219.9pc increase in circulation – up to 32,563 copies distributed a week.
Meanwhile, the East Lindsey Target almost doubled its circulation, with a 99.8pc increase.
The KM Extra (Folkestone and Hythe) weekly fared worst, with a drop of 62.9pc.