Newsquest’s strategy of pursuing large cover price rises at many of its titles during the year appears to have led to significant sales falls at its daily and weekly titles, despite the increases being accompanied by relaunches.
Most of the group’s major regional dailies increased their cover prices by around 40pc during the spring of summer of 2013, usually alongside extra pagination and in some cases extra reporters.
However the strategy appears to have come at significant cost with three of the titles which saw hefty price increases seeing their sales drop by a third.
The Telegraph raised its price from 45p to 65p in June, an increase mirrored at the Bolton News the same month and at the South Wales Argus in July.
The latest ABC figures for the second half of 2013 show that the picture is mirrored across other Newsquest dailies which had large cover price rises, with year-on-year double-digit falls in circulation.
Other daily titles to see hefty circulation drops during the year after price increases were the Worcester News at 27.7pc, the Oxford Mail at 22.7pc, the Bournemouth Echo at 21.1pc and the Swindon Advertiser at 21.9pc and the Southern Daily Echo down 17pc.
And The Argus in Brighton, which raised its price from 45p to 65p in September 2012, still saw a decrease of 21.1pc year-on-year, despite its price rise occuring before the start of the year.
The Northern Echo fared best among the Newsquest dailies which increased their cover prices, after a rise from 50p to 65p for its weekday edition in May, but it still saw circulation drop by 13.3pc year-on-year.
The Newsquest weeklies which had large cover price increases fared slightly better than the dailies but many still saw double-digit falls in sales.
These included the Hereford Times where a storm of protest was triggered on its Facebook page over an increase of 50pc last February from 80p to £1.20.
Other weeklies affected were the Bury Times which was down 15pc, the Warrington Guardian at 14.3pc and the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald at 14.6pc, the Western Telegraph at 13.8pc and the Somerset County Gazette at 13.4pc.
The better performing weeklies included the Hampshire Chronicle, whose circulation was down 8.5pc after an increase from 70p to £1 in May, which was accompanied by it making the switch from broadsheet to tabloid at the same time.
The Craven Herald and Pioneer had a sales fall of 6.5pc, while sister title the Keighley News saw a drop of 5.7pc and the Malvern Gazette had a fall of 8.2pc.