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Brighton daily tops circulation league table as latest ABCs unveiled

Argus crimeBrighton daily The Argus has topped the league table of circulation figures for regional dailies after posting a sales fall of just 2pc in the first half of this year.

With the majority of regional titles recording double-digit drops in circulation in the period January to June compared to the same period in 2017, today’s six-monthly ABC figures made mostly grim reading for print titles.

But regional publisher Newsquest performed well relative to the rest of the industry, with five of its daily newspapers in the top ten performing print titles.

As well as The Argus, the Swindon Advertiser and Oxford Mail also managed to limit their year-on-year percentage circulation declines to single figures.

Other dailies which performed relatively strongly included DC Thomson-owned morning titles the Press & Journal and Dundee Courier, the Irish News, the Belfast Telegraph, and the Paisley Daily Express, owned by Reach plc.

However a slightly different picture emerges when bulk sales and free copies are excluded from the figures.

An analysis of the figures by HTFP, focusing on retail sales alone and stripping out bulk sales and free copies, sees the Belfast-based Irish News topping the ‘alternative ABC’ league table with a year-on-year sales fall of 5.15pc.

A similar exercise carried out by HTFP in March after the publication of the ABCs for the second half of 2017 also showed the Irish News as the best-performing UK title, with its circulation 4.3pc down year-on-year on that occasion.

Also performing well on retail sales alone were the Press & Journal, the Courier and the Paisley Daily Express.

The Argus comes in at seventh place in the alternative table with a circulation drop of 9.81pc.

Fifteen of the UK’s 71 regional daily titles did not submit six-monthly circulation figures to ABC meaning they are not included in the latest figures.

They were the Blackpoool Gazette, Burton Mail, Edinburgh Evening News, Greenock Telegraph, Grimsby Telegraph, Hartlepool Mail, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, North Wales Daily Post, Shields Gazette, The Journal, The National, Western Daily Press, Western Mail, Western Morning News and Wigan Post

All are listed by ABC as having moved to annual reporting meaning their figures won’t be available until February 2019.

The full list of regional dailies in order of circulation decrease is below.  Scroll down to the second table to see the figures with the bulk sales and free copies stripped out.

Title Jan-Jun 18 YoY % Change
The Argus, Brighton 10,212 -2%
Press & Journal 45,935 -7%
Irish News 33,647 -7%
Paisley Daily Express 4,378 -7%
Swindon Advertiser 8,481 -7%
Dundee Courier 34,260 -8%
Belfast Telegraph 35,931 -9%
Oxford Mail 9,038 -9%
Bournemouth Daily Echo 11,521 -10%
The Northern Echo 20,323 -10%
Yorkshire Post 20,820 -10%
News Letter 13,374 -10%
Derby Telegraph 16,785 -11%
East Anglian Daily Times 13,263 -11%
Essex Echo 15,978 -11%
Aberdeen Evening Express 21,003 -12%
South Wales Echo 12,649 -12%
Dundee Evening  Telegraph 12,368 -12%
Plymouth Herald 13,833 -12%
South Wales Argus 9,362 -12%
The Bolton News 8,166 -12%
The Herald, Glasgow 24,265 -12%
The Sentinel, Stoke 22,047 -12%
Manchester Evening News 36,715 -13%
Shropshire Star 21,736 -13%
Southern Daily Echo 13,665 -13%
Worcester News 5,995 -13%
Colchester Daily Gazette 8,232 -14%
Dorset Echo 8,700 -14%
Hull Daily Mail 21,813 -14%
Nottingham Post 14,814 -14%
Sheffield Star 13,658 -14%
Birmingham Mail 15,367 -15%
Glasgow Evening Times 19,130 -15%
Lancashire Post 8,394 -15%
Eastern Daily Press 26,788 -15%
The Press, York 11,922 -15%
Bradford Telegraph & Argus 11,204 -16%
Liverpool Echo 35,038 -16%
South Wales Evening Post 16,590 -16%
Leicester Mercury 21,130 -17%
Newcastle Chronicle 20,756 -17%
Evening News 6,765 -17%
Express & Star 42,208 -18%
The News, Portsmouth 14,767 -18%
Teesside Gazette 16,204 -18%
Coventry Telegraph 11,438 -19%
The Scotsman 17,013 -20%
Carlisle News and Star West 1,753 -22%
Carlisle News and Star East 4,723 -23%
Lancashire Telegraph 8,149 -23%
The Post, Bristol 13,102 -24%
The Mail, Barrow 5,287 -25%
Yorkshire Evening Post 10,322 -32%
Cambridge News 8,005 -33%
Ipswich Star 6,001 -37%

The ‘alternative’ table, stripping out free copies and bulk sales, is as follows:

Title Jan – Jun 18 less bulks/frees YoY % change less bulks/frees
Irish News 33463 -5.15
Press & Journal 45550 -7.21
Paisley Daily Express 4378 -7.25
Dundee Courier 34060 -7.82
Belfast Telegraph 26834 -8.74
Oxford Mail 9037 -8.88
The Argus, Brighton 9014 -9.81
Bournemouth Daily Echo 11521 -9.96
Ipswich Star 5650 -10.12
The Northern Echo 20323 -10.16
Swindon Advertiser 8124 -10.19
Yorkshire Post 19526 -10.21
News Letter 13249 -10.33
South Wales Echo 12649 -10.51
East Anglian Daily Times 13263 -10.73
Essex Echo 15975 -10.91
Southern Daily Echo 13665 -11.00
Dundee Evening  Telegraph 12351 -11.46
Derby Telegraph 14782 -11.87
The Bolton News 8166 -11.92
Shropshire Star 20874 -12.01
Worcester News 5995 -12.03
The Herald, Glasgow 24265 -12.26
Aberdeen Evening Express 20957 -12.35
The Sentinel, Stoke 21850 -12.53
Plymouth Herald 13773 -12.58
The Scotsman 13739 -13.43
Dorset Echo 8700 -13.48
South Wales Argus 8845 -13.53
Colchester Daily Gazette 8230 -13.60
Hull Daily Mail 21772 -13.74
Liverpool Echo 34694 -13.82
Sheffield Star 13658 -13.87
Lancashire Telegraph 7683 -13.99
Teesside Gazette 16204 -14.00
Manchester Evening News 20732 -14.43
Newcastle Chronicle 20756 -14.45
Glasgow Evening Times 19130 -14.59
Nottingham Post 12380 -14.65
Eastern Daily Press 26788 -14.75
Birmingham Mail 15367 -14.77
Express & Star 35425 -14.89
Lancashire Post 8394 -14.99
The Post, Bristol 13017 -15.09
The News, Portsmouth 14767 -15.55
The Press, York 11771 -16.37
South Wales Evening Post 16558 -16.53
Leicester Mercury 18759 -16.58
Bradford Telegraph & Argus 11036 -16.63
Evening News 6765 -16.66
Yorkshire Evening Post 10322 -17.05
Coventry Telegraph 11438 -17.56
Cambridge News 7666 -19.02
Carlisle News and Star East 4723 -20.60
Carlisle News and Star West 1753 -22.30
The Mail, Barrow 5287 -23.51



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  • August 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    WOW – The Yorkshire Evening Post is truly on a death spiral. Yet they keep putting the cover price up!

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  • August 30, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Many of these figures are horrifying. How can the YEP have lost 32% of readers in six months? It’s hard to believe it’s only selling 10,322 a night although city neighbour the T&A isn’t selling many more.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. At least some are good at something, being consistent.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    What have they let happen to the Cambridge News. After going on to close most of the Frees and now this drop I’m even more dumbfounded to understand why they didn’t just sell it back. It’s even more confusing when you factor in they had to pay a break clause to keep them!

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  • August 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Unfortunately all these figures tell a sorry tale of how our industry has slipped in the past 15 years. For example, when I worked at the Hull Daily Mail in the early 2000s the circulation was about 4 times what it is now.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Brighton Argus may have least year-on-year reduction, but it still has a bleak circulation.
    The top brass will be gloating and patting themselves on the back for days, when really those figures are based on their poor staff working hours over each day (for a pittance) just to get the paper out, because so many staff have left/ been made redundant.
    Tight tight Newsquest as always.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Your alternative table, stripping out the bulls and frees, is a really useful and informative service.

    Given that we are now in a period of prolonged double digit declines, could you consider publishing anextra column showing the figure in terms of raw numbers of copies lost, as well as the percentage drop?

    For some of these bigger titles a 15 to 20% fall is equivalent to some of the smaller titles losing every single one of their print readers.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    And I meant bulks, of course, not bulls.

    Although some of those circulation figures lumping freebies in certainly were bull.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Yet another staggering loss for Archants Eastern Daily Press, this time a further 15% dropping to less than 27,000 which must make alarm bells ring loudly for this woeful paper, how the chiefs can justify allowing the once proud EDP to continue to wither away in full sight is beyond me,time must be to turn this loss maker free,online only or close before any more money is lost
    As for the embarrassing NEN losing another 17% and now selling little over 6,500, its beyond salvation as a newsprint publication

    My how far the once mighty have fallen

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  • August 30, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    The spiral of sales decline shouldn’t surprise any of us as it’s been a recurring picture every sixth months but the copy sale figures some of these papers have reached are truly shocking. It does make you wonder how far the bar has to drop and how bad the sales figures need to be before plugs are pulled?
    As has been said previously,many of these titles must be at risk of closure as having lost their primary audiences and the communities they once served so well their futures and those of their editors is looking very bleak.
    One things for sure, doing nothing and allowing the decline to continue unchecked is no longer an option.

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  • August 30, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Can’t see much future for some titles where there’s already duplication or overlap, particularly where former evenings are now mornings published alongside sister dailies – for example, the Eastern Daily Press and the Norwich Evening News.

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  • August 31, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Hear that sound?
    It’s the former editors of the EDP turning in their graves ( so to speak)
    At this rate of decline the paper will be down to under 20,000 in a years time which,in a catchment of almost 900,000 people,would be a 2% reach,hardly worth the time,resources and finances in producing it. Set these appealing figures against a growing free web readership ,albeit attracting nowhere near enough revenue to sustain a sales and editorial function of the size they’re weighed down with,and it becomes clear to see the only path which lies ahead..

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  • August 31, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Local World, the Illness which will send the Cambridge News to the graveyard. Thanks, Monty…

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  • August 31, 2018 at 10:57 am

    I hate to spoil a good success story and I am sure the Brighton Argus staff deserve a pat on the back for hard work but it reflects the state of the industry that someone is celebrating a slow down in the drop of their newspaper circulation. I seem to remember reading on HTFP that the Argus once sold a peak of well over 100,000 a day (that is not a typo). It now sells 10,000. Ditto for lots of other papers too. Wish them all luck.

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  • August 31, 2018 at 11:12 am

    What’s equally, if not more staggering, is the fact that the Birmingham Mail, with a population in its core city of 1 million plus the numerous surrounding areas of Solihull, Redditch, the Black Country etc, can barely scrape 15,000 sales. Forget the Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter ‘re-tweets’, this is the life-blood of the business that’s being allowed to wither and die – especially when you realise that papers in significantly smaller cities such as Stoke and Leicester are selling 7,000 and 6,000 MORE copies respectively!

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  • August 31, 2018 at 11:27 am

    When I was working I can remember circulation being another 1,000 plus down by the time the figures were published!

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  • August 31, 2018 at 11:39 am

    It wasn’t Local World, Jeremy Fischer (although telnet certainly didn’t help), but Trinity Mirror (now Reach) who got rid of the former Cambridge editor and senior management team who had been building digital audience, managing only slight circulation decline and replaced them with a new team who clearly have little idea what they are doing. Don’t forget they also closed the Bedford, Ely, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Luton papers too. How they couldn’t make money from the Bedford and Milton Keynes papers is beyond me.

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  • August 31, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Chicken or egg? While all of these results make for depressing reading they do underline the one real truth. newspaper readership is dying due to the proliferation of digital alternatives and the erosion of communities of geography in favour of the online communities of interest. There are no new readers coming to print so your circulation is solely dependent on how fast your loyal readers are dying or deserting you. if this was purely a “bad management” issue as many posters on here suggest, then where are the positive exceptions? so, what came first, the reducing audience penetration due to cost cutting or cost cutting as a result of reducing audience penetration?

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  • August 31, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Regarding the Birmingham Mail, Ex-Regional Journo should be aware that the paper in fact no longer carries any discernable coverage of Solihull, the Black Country, Redditch or indeed anywhere outside Birmingham’s city boundaries. And what it does offer within Birmingham is a few pages with very low story counts, massive headlines and enormous file pictures of streets, police mugshots or blurred camera phone shots of accidents, supplemented by batches of TrinityReachWhateverItIsThisWeek’s bland, mass-produced feature pages with no local relevance or input.

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  • August 31, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    @napolean solo. Let’s not forget Biggleswade Advertiser, Stevenage/Hitchin Mercury, Herts and Lea Valley Star, Saffron News, Royston News, Haverhill News, Wellingbough Post, Newmarket News, Hunts and St Ives News and Crier and I presume the Cambs Mid Week is gone now to. To be fair a couple of those were binned under LW I think which was staggering to me with the likes of Biggleswade being a 88-96 page paper with a large amount of circulars as well.
    Off the top of my head the only free I can think of that’s still going out of LSN, Cambs and H&E is the Harlow Star.

    2013 600-650k of frees. 2018 20-30k!

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  • August 31, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    1970’s: circulation 101,000+ AND EIGHT Sussex and Brighton editions DAILY!
    Now: circulation 9,014 and ONE edition DAILY produced by editorial staff you can count on less than two hands.
    SHAME ON YOU Argus and Newsquest!

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  • September 1, 2018 at 8:47 am

    @NapoleonSolo It may have been Trinity Mirror who dumped some members of the senior management team, but Local World accelerated the decline that was already being felt, butchering admin and support staff under the name of centralisation. A former colleague, one who had been at the CN for several years, rues the day Iliffe met Montgomery. He admits tough decisions needed to be made, but felt the slide in circulation could have been managed and revenue maintained. As it was, several good journalists left and were not replaced before TM took over, obviously after that several more didn’t have a choice.
    I’m sorry, but the CN’s slide into the digital abyss began with Local World.

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  • September 1, 2018 at 10:29 am

    The fat lady is definitely warbling ever louder in the background, and it’s not a pleasant tune for some of these titles. But it is not hard to see why people are showing disdain for papers, specially weeklies. Just read mine, lots of volunteers needed, person raises money, fire service open day… but there is actually just ONE story I could even begin to class as news. Yep the rest is all hand outs. Will I miss it when it’s gone – nope. Even with modern day cuts they really could and should do better.

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  • September 3, 2018 at 7:20 am

    @Jeremy Fischer. When the LW deal came about I remember a Director at Iliffe beaming how this was great for the business. My exact words to him once I knew who was involved in the deal was that LW will come in, destroy everything and sell out within 5 years. You only had to look at the players involved in it to understand what it was all about. Having also been in some of the meetings involving some of the changes I can tell you the underhand way people were dealt with and used sickened me. Luckily as it transpired most of the people instigating it were also thrown on the scrap heap to. I hope they realised it was ‘just business’ when it happened to them as that was their favourite line to justify destroying lives to further their own progression.

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  • September 3, 2018 at 9:27 am

    Argonaut. Interesting figures. I think the immensely sad and astonishing decline of the Brighton Argus (formerly Evening Argus) epitomises the decline of regionals. Its worst decision was breaking up its superb teams of district reporters who gave it brilliant coverage of the whole of Sussex from Chichester to Hastings. Instead it circled the wagons around Brighton and the immediate coastal area, paying feeble lip service to the rest of the Sussex. Shedding its brilliant pool of skilled photographers for freelance cover and ditching experienced reporters did it no favours. Turning it into a rather stale next day morning paper was the final straw.
    None of this is the fault of the current staff, who are working their backsides off keeping the paper afloat with a depressing 9,000 sales a day in a county of about 2 million people.
    Whilst it is true that digital would always inevitably hit newspaper sales, so much negative action by its owners greatly hastened the decline.
    Anyone else on a regional recognise this pattern of destruction?

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  • September 3, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    @formerlocalfollower Totally agree, although I think you were being generous with five years!! My ex-colleague said it would be gone in three: Monty was a ‘build it, consolidate, flog it’ merchant. And TM as minority shareholders? Tail wagging dog, I gather.

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  • September 5, 2018 at 10:12 am

    The passion for the regional newspaper industry and frustration at its rapid decline, much of it the bigger groups own doing, shown by those commenting on this thread is heartening to see.
    It’s just a shame those on whose watch this has been allowed to happen,and those who’ve stood back and timidly agreed with all the cuts,poor decisions and knee jerk actions that have brought the industry to where it is now ,don’t share the same level of passion and commitment as the rest of us.

    Truly shocking ABC figures yet those in positions of authority still live to bring more losses and embarrassment to once proud newspapers and publishing groups.
    I’m sure the shareholders of those companies who’ve lost more readers and whose papers no longer speak as the voice of their communities will demand action and change as this level of decline cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

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