UK national newspaper ABCs: Observer best performer in November 2020

most popular newspapers UK

Several national newsbrands managed a month on month increase in print circulation in November, with The Observer seeing the biggest rise at 4%.

The Observer’s print circulation rose from 145,680 to 152,129 having remained steady in the previous month.

The Sunday Express, the Sunday People and the Guardian also saw print sales rise 1%, after seeing declines between September and October

The Observer saw the smallest year-on-year decline at 5%. It was the only title not to report a double-digit year-on-year fall.

The Financial Times had the biggest paid-for decline (36% to 104,024) followed by the i (31% to 151,888).

Metro and the Evening Standard, which had their free commuter distribution models hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns, were still 46% and 40% down on the previous year’s print readership.

Scroll down for new graphs charting the ups and downs of the UK national press in the past 20 years – with a spotlight on how Covid-19 affected circulations.

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National newsbrand circulations in November 2020 (ABC) with monthly and yearly changes – this page will be updated monthly:

The above figures do not include the Sun, Times and Telegraph titles which have all chosen to keep their ABC circulations private since the start of 2020. The column for bulks refers to copies which are circulated for free at venues like airports and hotels.

2020 in focus

These charts show the steep effect the first Covid-19 national lockdown, announced on 23 March, had on the UK’s national newspapers – and the slow recovery ever since.

The free daily Metro was by far the hardest hit as commuters disappeared from train stations and other key locations almost overnight. Circulation had started to bounce back as publisher DMGT begun to ramp up distribution again however, the title faced a small slump in circulation in November.

Most paid-for titles have seen similar trends in both the effect of Covid-19 and the slow pace of recovery since April.


We have also charted the longer-term change in ABC circulation over the past 20 years across the UK press.

These charts show the extent of the print decline from the The Sun reaching 3.76m in 2000 and the Sun on Sunday’s launch in February 2012 with a short-lived 3.21m before dropping to just above 2m.

Meanwhile, though the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail once were competitive in print reach at around 2.3m-2.4m in 2000, the Mail now has a circulation three times the size of its former rival.

The Sunday tabloids all saw a spike in 2011 after the closure of the News of the World but few retained the readers – the Sunday People and Sunday Mirror did best at doing so, but largely lost them when the Sun on Sunday launched.

These charts will be updated each month to include the latest figures.

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3 thoughts on “UK national newspaper ABCs: Observer best performer in November 2020”

  1. The graph ‘UK daily newspaper average circulation per issue by month, year to date (m)’ is wrong according to The Press Gazetttes own published contemperaneous ABC figures. The Guardians circulation dropped to 106,000 in April and has never risen above 113,00 since. In July the graph shows the circulation back up to 130,000 when the published figure was 110,438

  2. The chart shows the Daily Star has gone down another 1% since last month, but the words say it went up 1%. Which is correct please?

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