Scotland business

Herald newspaper sales slump below 50,000

Both The Herald and The Scotsman recorded their poorest average daily sales in decades
Image caption Both The Herald and The Scotsman recorded their poorest average daily sales in decades

The average daily sale of The Herald newspaper has fallen below 50,000 for the first time in living memory, according to the latest official circulation figures.

The paper sold an average of 49,764 copies each day in April.

Its rival, The Scotsman, also recorded its worst sales figures in recent decades - an average of just 40,524 a day.

The Herald's owners said its titles saw a boost after the Scottish election.

However, that period was not recorded in the latest figures.

In March The Herald sold a total of 50,621 copies.

The figures suggest the Scottish election campaign and the build up to the Royal Wedding failed to attract new readers or lead to a boost in sales for both titles, although the Easter holidays often make April a tricky month for newspaper sales.

However, BBC Scotland understands the titles got a boost after the Royal Wedding.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Herald - which was relaunched as a news magazine in January - saw its sales plunge again to an average of 29,578, despite modifications to the format. Before the relaunch, it typically sold about 42,000 copies.

During the last Scottish election campaign in April 2007, The Herald sold 69,829 while The Scotsman's circulation was 55,997.

The Herald and Times Group said the The Herald was read by an estimated 30,000 more readers after the election than in the previous week and sold an extra 11,000 copies.

The Sunday Herald saw its circulation rise by more than 3,000 last Sunday compared to the previous week.

A Herald and Times Group spokesman said: "Readers chose our team of experts and distinguished columnists for the best reporting and analysis of the election and an interpretation of the new Scottish political landscape.

"With our headquarters in Glasgow and our staff enmeshed in the Scottish community, the title is the natural place to turn for a true understanding of Scotland, its life, politics and business."

Online editions

The Herald and The Scotsman still comfortably outsell the London-based quality titles, some of which have distinct Scottish editions. The Times sold an average of 20,840 copies north of the border while The Daily Telegraph sold 21,085.

Some newspaper journalists are adamant that commentators should not confuse falling print sales with declining influence, because some readers have switched to their online editions.

Amongst the tabloids, The Sun - which offered its support to the SNP for the first time during the election campaign - sold 322,335, while the Labour-supporting Daily Record sold 286,644 within Scotland. The middle-market Daily Mail sold 116,719.

The dramatic decline of the Sunday Herald does not seem to be benefiting the other upmarket Sunday newspapers which have also seen their sales decline.

The Sunday Times sold 56,759 in Scotland. Last April, when the paper offered much more Scottish content, it sold 65,600. Scotland on Sunday sold a total of 50,626 against 57,698 a year ago.

Scottish sales of the other UK quality Sunday papers were all broadly stable year-on-year.

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