Even the Mail has its downward moments

It was an admittedly low-profile month for the Daily Mail, but its drop in sales surprised many advertisers.

When the mighty Daily Mail sees its circulation fall by 2.6 per cent in a month, something is up. Even in August, when readers tend to take a holiday from reading newspapers, a fall of this magnitude is unusual. No other tabloid or mid-market paper did as badly.

When the mighty Daily Mail sees its circulation fall by 2.6 per cent in a month, something is up. Even in August, when readers tend to take a holiday from reading newspapers, a fall of this magnitude is unusual. No other tabloid or mid-market paper did as badly.

The rival Daily Express saw a 0.7 per cent increase in sales from July to August, and stayed above the all-important one-million mark. The Sun and Daily Star both registered month-on-month rises of 4.4 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively.

The drop in sales of Mail once more shows the power of promotion. July figures were boosted by a TV-backed British Airways flights offer. In August, by contrast, the paper took out practically no television advertising. Even so, news-paper advertisers found the size of the drop, down to 2.3m copies "surprising".

No surprises, then, that now editor Paul Dacre and his readers are back from their summer breaks that the Mail is back on the promotion-trail. It is attempting to win back readers with a million pound prize in a "cashpoint" competition, as well as putting a luxury car up for grabs every day. Executives will be seriously worried if September does not produce a big correction.

The Sun, unlike the Mail, chose this quiet time of year to run its own win-a-million competition. This, and selling the newspaper at the giveaway price of 15p for three Fridays in a row in August, helped take circulation to 3.7m. The Daily Star, part of the Express group, continued a more steady climb, achieving not only a monthly hike to 560,000 copies, but also a year-on-year rise of 5.3 per cent - which must come as some relief to Lord Hollick, who cannot be happy with the Express's year-on-year decline of 4 per cent.

Together the two papers helped halt the recently improving fortunes of The Mirror, which was up only 0.7 per cent month-on-month to 2.3 million, and down 2.5 per cent on the year.

At the News of the World, Rebekah Wade's name-and-shame campaign to expose paedophiles had no dramatic effect, despite the huge amount of publicity for the paper.

Month-on-month figures increased by 2.26 per cent, to 4.1 million, a significant figure but surely not considered sufficient within Wapping to justify the widespread vilification of a strategy which sparked riots on the Paulsgrove estate in Portsmouth, the formation of vigilante groups and attacks on innocent people.

Among the national broadsheets, The Independent achieved the best month-on-month performance with a rise of 0.3 per cent to 223,608. The worst was The Times, with a 1.3 per cent fall, followed by The Guardian with a 0.8 per cent drop.

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