The so-called ‘redtops’ – Britain's vociferous tabloid sextet comprising The Sun, News of the World, Daily Star, The Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People – at last felt the chill of recession during November, collectively dropping 8.9% in advertising revenues year-on-year.

Hitherto the sextet had been spared the worst of the decline, being far less reliant than their broadsheet brethren on classified advertising – decimated during 2001 as the recession began to impact on employment.

In addition, the major retail giants are currently deserting the tabloids in favour of the richer pickings to be had from television. Explains Carat’s Tim Kirkman: “The popular market - particularly the dailies – had been relatively robust until now because the retailers were still advertising. But now retailers are spending less and they are taking their money elsewhere.

Also, adds Kirkman, the redtops have been affected by the cutback in computer and telecoms advertising, “well down on last year [while] the supermarkets are putting more into TV because they can get time so cheaply at the moment.”

According to media monitoring service ACNielsen MMS, retail advertising – which accounts for around 20% of the tabloids' advertising revenue – fell by 22% in November. Some analysts think retailers may have applied the advertising brake because consumer spending has held up better than expected.

Investment bank ABN Amro calculates that advertising across all national newspapers fell by 10.1% in October and by 20.7% in November. December, it predicts cheerily, will witness a further 20% drop.

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