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June 19, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:25am

Eclipse of The Sun: Daily Mail says it has overtaken print sale of News UK red-top for first time in 42 years

By Dominic Ponsford

The Daily Mail has claimed victory in a 42-year circulation war with The Sun.

The paper said tonight that it has overtaken The Sun’s monthly print circulation for the first time in that period to become the UK’s best selling daily newspaper.

The Daily Mail is the UK national newspaper with the highest publicly-released monthly ABC circulation figure, with sales of 980,000 per day in May (down 17% year on year).

Last month The Sun stopped publicly releasing its ABC figures. But the Daily Mail said it has seen The Sun’s figures and revealed that it has overtaken the News UK red-top.

In March (the last month The Sun released an ABC figure) it was  selling 1,210,915 versus 1,132,908 for the Daily Mail in second place.

The new figures reveal that the Mail has managed to hold on to more print readers than The Sun during the challenging period of lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Industry agreements mean that the Mail cannot reveal The Sun’s exact circulation figure.

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Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig said: “I am immensely proud and delighted  that the Daily Mail has  become Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, an historic moment in our history.

“It is testament to the relentless drive of the Daily Mail’s journalists  who continue to set the  news agenda with skill, courage and conviction.

“Our brilliant reporters, columnists, feature writers and top editors are unrivalled and I am equally delighted   and humbled that our readers have backed us so magnificently and loyally by buying the paper to make us Britain’s bestselling paper.”

A spokesperson for The Sun said: “We care most about the measurement that reflects our readers and our industry in 2020. The latest PAMCo data – the best measure of total brand audience across print and digital – shows record reach for The Sun. We engage 39.8million people monthly, fuelled by our agenda-setting journalism and exclusives, and underlining our position as the UK’s biggest and most popular newsbrand.”

Timeline (source: Daily Mail)

  • September 1964 – The Sun is launched
  • January 1965 – The Sun’s first ever ABC circulation figure puts them 4th in the market.    (1. Mirror, 2. Express., 3. Mail  4. Sun)
  • December 1970 – The Sun circulation higher than the Mail for the first time.  (1. Mirror  2. Express  3. Sun  4. Mail)
  • March 1974 – The Sun overtakes the Express for the first time.  (1. Mirror  2. Sun  3. Express  4. Mail)
  • 1978 – The Sun overtake the Mirror to become number one.      (1. Sun  2. Mirror   3. Express  4. Mail)
  • End of 1979 – The Sun ahead of the Mirror by 285k copies, ahead of the Express by 1.6 million, and ahead of the Mail by 1.9 million.
  • May 1986 – Mail circulation higher than the Express for the first time.   (1. Sun  2. Mirror 3. Mail  4. Express)
  • End of 1989 – The Sun ahead of the Mirror by 841k copies, and ahead of the Mail by 2.2 million copies
  •  Sept 1998 – Mail circulation higher than the Mirror for the first time.   (1. Sun  2. Mail  3. Mirror  4. Express)
  • End of 1999 – The Sun ahead of the Mail by 1.1 million copies
  • End of 2009 –  The Sun ahead of the Mail by 750k copies
  • End of 2019 – The Sun ahead of the Mail by 75k copies
  • May 2020 – Daily Mail circulation higher than The Sun for the first time.

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