The decline of newspaper sales…

newspaper, wholesaleThe May newspaper Audit Bureau of Circulation figures were recently published and show an annual decline in sales figures across the board for dailies. Core Sales (read here for explanation) had an average daily total of 8.34 million copies sold through the newstrade on Monday to Friday during the month.

Newspaper circulations have been falling for years so for retailers it is more relevant to look at cash profit. In May 2012 Retail Newsagent estimates the total retail margin to have been £1,096,500 per day. This surprisingly is the same figure as RN reported for June 1999 when daily sales numbers were 43% higher than today.

Newspaper publishers have used substantially differing pricing strategies for their titles since 1999 so the raw figures don’t give a fair view of how the performance of each title since then. The Daily Telegraph has been the best performer on retail cash margin followed by the Guardian. The worst preforming title has been the Daily Mirror followed by the Sun.

Another way to view these figures is to look at the different types of newspapers. Because of the significant increase in price and cash margin on the ‘Broadsheet’ titles their poor sales performance has been more than offset by the cash margin increase. With the mid market showing a cash margin just down on their 1999 position and tabloids well down. But when you take the 38% retail price inflation that has happened during the last 13 years into account the position that newspapers today are in is starkly revealed.

With a 7.2% fall in newspaper circulation numbers in the past 12 months UK newsagents need to look closely at how they manage the category in their stores and plan for a future where the category has a small place in the business.

What are you doing to manage this change in your store?  My simple advise is to find the relevant publishers phone number either from the newspaper or the Internet and make the call. When they answer ask for circulation and start the conversation.  It’s important for the retailer  to know what they want to do to promote sales, the publisher may well have tried and tested support tools though.


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