Switch to tabloid brings sales hikes

Regional newspapers across Britain have mainly seen circulation improve since switching from broadsheet to tabloid.

The Northern Echo and Stoke’s Sentinel Sunday benefited from the switch, although the Halifax Evening Courier – which went tabloid just after half-way through the audit period – failed to.

The Sentinel Sunday posted a 15.9 per cent year-on-year circulation increase (see story above).

The Northern Echo remained relatively stable at 51,118, down 2.2 per cent year-on-year, compared with a 5.2 per cent drop in the previous six-month period. The improved performance meant it overtook nearest rival the Yorkshire Post, which fell 5.2 per cent year-on-year to 51,081.

Echo editor Peter Barron said the tabloid format, which the paper adopted in February after publishing a compact Saturday edition for a year before that, was the best for readers and advertisers.

‘Since we launched the tabloid edition in February the figures are a lot better than -2.2 per cent,’he said. ‘That figure is influenced by January and the beginning of February when we were still a broadsheet. For the last two months The Northern Echo is showing a year-on-year plus, which is great to see.

‘We tried really hard to not alienate traditional readers by retaining the feel of the paper and not make the change too brash.”

The weekly Wakefield Express was also a minor winner in the circulation wars, with an increase of 0.8 per cent to 34,205. The paper went tabloid in February after a reader poll overwhelmingly voted in favour of the change. The Johnston Press-owned title has had to fight off competition from the part-free Wakefield Guardian and the Pont and Cas Guardian that launched in May.

The Halifax Evening Courier, which ended more than 100 years as a regional evening broadsheets when it switched in April, saw its circulation fall by 6.8 per cent to 21,262 compared with a previous drop of 3.7 per cent to 21,856. But, as its switch happened most of the way through the audit period, the true effect of the change will not be apparent until the next ABCs.

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