Associated Newspapers editor-in-chief Paul Dacre showed why he gets paid more than £1 million a year by the fact that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday were two out of only three national newspaper titles to put on paid-for sales in December.
Against a backdrop of universal circulation decline, the Mail titles remain circulation supertankers ploughing through the middle market with net sales totals of 2.2 million and 2.15 million apiece.
The Daily Mail was helped by its new Irish edition – which added 51,000 to the total – and by a continuingly heavy promotional spend which included a voucher (redeemable at shops) for 11 fairytale DVDs in the run-up to Christmas and a polybagged DVD of The Slipper and the Rose.
The Mail on Sunday achieved pole position in Press Gazette’s unique league table of net circulation growth (excluding bulks), helped again by Irish sales – the merger with Ireland on Sunday has added 99,000 year on year. The MoS was also helped by a heavy promotional spend which included a free Duran Duran CD and a Little Lord Fauntleroy DVD – both polybagged.
The Evening Standard continues to prop up the PG sales table with the worst year-on-year performance of any paper by some margin – down by some 27.27 per cent in the face of competition from the two free London evenings, London Lite and thelondonpaper.
But Standard bosses are hopeful they have turned the corner, and point to some improvement in December compared with November.
The headline sales drop (including bulks) of 3.4 per cent from November to December was, according to the Standard, the smallest November to December drop since 1992.
Editor Veronica Wadley said in a statement: ‘The sales of the Evening Standard are stabilising despite an extra 800,000 free papers. The Evening Standard has a core loyal AB audience which is a great credit to the quality and passion of its writers and columnists.”
The Sunday Times stands out as another big loser – down 8.1 per cent year on year and still evidently feeling the effects of the decision to raise the cover price from £1.80 to £2, proving that newspapers remain particularly price sensitive.
The Observer finished a successful 2006 in terms of sales by taking second spot in the PG sales growth league with little extra marketing spend except for radio adverts to promote the Food Monthly magazine supplement.