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April 16, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:10am

National newspaper ABCs: Print sales hold during coronavirus outbreak before UK lockdown

By Freddy Mayhew

UK national newspaper circulation figures for the first three weeks of March, in the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, have been released today.

The figures span 2 to 22 March and show print sales were continuing  broadly as normal until the UK officially went into lockdown on 23 March.

This three-week audit period reflects market activity prior to tightened Government restrictions. ABC said it had taken the decision to shorten the period because it is more comparable to earlier pre-lockdown figures.

Scroll down for March 2020 ABC figures in full

Free newspapers have been among the worst hit.

City AM suspended its print edition altogether from 20 March, while the Evening Standard is now delivering to homes in a first for the title, cutting distribution from 800,000 to 500,000 copies  a day.

The ABC figures released today show the Metro had begun to see the impact of people staying at home in early March, with distribution down seven per cent, or just under 100,000 copies, on the month before.

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A clearer picture of the impact of the lockdown on print circulations will come with figures for April, which will be released in mid-May.

Compare March figures with ABC figures for February.

The Telegraph, which is no longer audited by ABC, revealed it now has 442,386 subscribers after its biggest ever subs growth in March.

UK national newspaper ABCs over 2-22 March 2020

Publication ABC total for March (2-22) 2020 % change from Feb 2020 Year-on-year % change Bulks
Metro FREE 1,326,213 -7% -7%
The Sun 1,210,915 0% -11% 66,859
Daily Mail 1,132,908 0% -5%
The Sun on Sunday 1,013,777 -1% -11% 66,861
The Mail on Sunday 952,914 -1% -5%
Evening Standard FREE 700,191 -11% -20%
The Sunday Times 647,622 2% -9% 48,060
Daily Mirror 442,610 0% -11%
The Times 365,880 2% -10% 51,389
Sunday Mirror 354,375 -1% -13%
Daily Express 289,393 0% -8% 9
Daily Star 276,453 1% -15%
Sunday Express 252,118 3% -7% 8
i 215,640 0% -7% 45,777
Daily Star – Sunday 163,695 4% -16%
The Observer 156,174 1% -5%
Financial Times 146,373 -6% -16% 26,925
Sunday People 134,931 -2% -12%
The Guardian 129,961 2% -3%
Sunday Mail 104,608 1% -12%
Daily Record 102,906 0% -12%
Sunday Post 84,607 0% -18% 538

Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

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