September is the Cruellest Month for UK Tabloid Press

18 October 2004

Traditionally September is the month when Britain's strident tabloid press recovers from its holiday season circulation sag.

But September 2004 failed to oblige the red-tops (so called in the UK because of their lurid mastheads) with their customary boost, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Sun, The Mirror and the Daily Star all continued to lose readers – 25,000 of whom emigrated from News Corporation's top-selling The Sun, lowering its average daily sale for the month to 3,336,422.

Its nearest rival, The Mirror, fared even worse, shedding 27,000 readers and exacerbating by 1.5% its ongoing decline to a seventy-year low of 1,793,718. Even the mammary-laden Daily Star, which has enjoyed strong sales in recent years, fell by more than 2% to 899,773.

The quality dailies fared better, with NewsCorp's relatively upmarket The Times ahead year-on-year by 4.53% and 1.98% month-on-month – due mainly to its me-too conversion to a compact format.

The broadsheets also did relatively well. The Guardian rose 3.24% month on month to 376,314 (although 4.8% down year-on-year), while the Financial Times leapt 7.7%, partly due to the launch of a new Australian edition in September.

But the most spectacular rise was recorded by The Independent, now in its twelfth consecutive month of sales increases. The paper's average daily sale for September increased to 264,594, a month-on-month rise of 21.1% – attributable to its new compact format which it pioneered in 2003.

[The source for the story you are reading is The Guardian, which competes vigorously with The Independent for the attention of Britain's well-heeled liberal demographic. Curiously, The Guardian omitted to mention its rival's success – or even refer to The Indy at all!]

London's sole afternoon/evening newspaper, the Evening Standard, rose 8% to 367,844, but plummeted almost 8% year-on-year.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff