December saw a continuation of the resilience of the print market in recent months while online was hit hard over the festive period.

 

Print results for December

 

The Daily Mail recorded an increase of 0.7%, while quality paper the Financial Times superseded this with the largest increase across all the markets over the period – recording an additional 3,600 copies, and up 1.7% overall.

 

The largest decline in circulation belonged to i with a decrease in circulation of -2% or 5,500 copies followed by the The Daily Mirror, down -1.7%

 

Elsewhere across the market titles largely maintained an even keel in relation to period on period performance. The Free Press continued to see a positive yearly circulation up 4.1% and remained steady against results from November down only -0.3%, totalling 1.76 million copies.

 

The Sunday titles performed slightly worse than their daily counterparts, down 1.4% overall, and among a blanket of small declines the Daily Star Sunday was the only title to see a circulation increase (up 2.7% with an extra 7,900 copies).

 

In stark contrast to this online traffic saw significant declines across the board with theguardian.com, Telegraph, Metro and Wales Online (among others) all registering a drop of more than -15% with the Metro seeing the most drastic decline of -23%

 

Print figures exceed expectations

 

Overall December proved another positive month for the national newspapers as the monthly decline has remained reasonably steady across the board leading into 2016.

 

As previous months uphold this relative success is no anomaly. The ABC report for November found that The Times and the quality market as a whole performed strongly, while the report for October saw all markets exceed expectations. October in fact performed so much better than expected – when compared with year on year decline – that it prompted writer and media consultant Raymond Snoddy to suggest the possibility of “the bottom of the circulation sales decline”.

 

While this is perhaps a matter of looking through rose coloured spectacles (when considered against forecasts for print sales) it is true that print, as we have stated before, remains a strong and often underestimated format – and one that is declining far slower than many had expected.

 

As the results from the November ABC report suggested (a month in which the quality market performed better than expected) there is still a perceived value attached to print newspapers that is ensuring their continued survival. While online continues to dominate the market it is clear that print is capable – at least for the time being – of holding its own.

 

Keep an eye out for our next ABC report due next month to see if print can continue this resilience into 2016 as we summarise the latest national print results for January.

 

By Paul Gregson