By Dominic Ponsford
Sales of the Evening Standard have nosedived in the wake of it launching a free “Lite” edition.
Circulation figures for January, the first full month that Standard Lite has been available, show sales of the main paper down 11.08 per cent year-on-year from 394,387 to 350,671. This compares with a year-on-year decline for December of 10.02 per cent.
Circulation of Standard Lite , which was launched on 14 December, stood at 54,947 for January, making a combined free and paid-for circulation for the paper of 405,618.
The Standard claims the launch of the scaled-down free edition, which is distributed at lunchtime in central London, has led to a month-on-month “audience” increase of 16 per cent.
The Associated Newspapers title hopes to cash in with advertisers on the increased readership and has revealed plans to present research on its new “audience demographics” to agencies in the next few weeks.
When Standard Lite was launched last month, Associated Newspapers said it was targeted at the 600,000 Londoners who don’t regularly buy a daily paper.
Responding to this week’s ABC figures, editor Veronica Wadley said: “I am pleased with the reception of our new lunchtime edition. London newspaper sales for most of the national newspapers have been on the decline for some time and we recognised the need for a new approach to introduce the Evening Standard to new audiences who haven’t traditionally bought an evening newspaper.
“Standard Lite has found new readers who leave their office at lunchtime between 11.30am and 2.30pm.” Evening Standard managing director Mike Anderson said: “Launching Standard Lite and turning the Evening Standard into a hybrid newspaper, which is part free and part paid for, is a bold and innovative move.
“January’s ABC figures are an encouraging early sign that more people are reading more editions of the Evening Standard , and we believe that there will be further growth over the coming months.”
The Evening Standard has announced plans to promote its main supplements – ES Magazine, Homes & Property, the Evening Standard Travel Section and London Jobs – with a TV advertising campaign targeting female commuters aged 25 to 34.
In the national press the Telegraph, Times and Independent all achieved year-on-year sales rises for January.