Some regional daily titles lost a third of their readers in the second half of 2013 with cover price rises appearing to have a severe impact on sales.
Today’s ABC figures saw across-the-board circulation decline for UK regional daily titles with four losing 30pc of their sales or more compared to the same period in 2012.
Newsquest titles appeared to be among the worst hit after the company embarked on a strategy of cover price rises in the spring and summer of 2013.
Its Blackburn-based daily the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, which raised its cover price from 45p to 65pc last June, was the worst-performing title in the UK with average circulation down 33.9pc year-on-year.
Other Newsquest titles which saw big sales drops included the Bolton News, down 32.2pc, Worcester News, down 27.7pc, and South Wales Argus, down 32.2pc.
Most of the best-performing daily titles in the UK were from Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, with the Belfast-based Irish News showing the smallest sales drop at 1.7pc.
In England, the Burton Mail, whose sales are audited annually rather than six-monthly, showed the smallest decrease with 4.8pc closely followed by fellow Local World titles the Grimsby Telegraph, down 6.5pc and Cambridge News, down 6.6pc.
Trinity Mirror’s daily titles are excluded from the list as their sales are now audited monthly, but several of the group’s major titles have also seen big sales drops over the past 12 months.
A comparison of the most recent figures for January 2014 with the average circulation for the period January – June 2013 showed the South Wales Echo down 13.81pc and the Coventry Telegraph down 11.12pc, although the Manchester Evening News performed better with a 5.23pc drop.