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Summary:

How many people in Britain buy a newspaper every day? It’s a question of ten asked and rarely answered with any authority.

I found myself f…

How many people in Britain buy a newspaper every day? It’s a question of ten asked and rarely answered with any authority.

I found myself floundering for an exact answer during a US radio broadcast at the weekend, guessing at about 12m.

So I set about coming up with a definitive figure and it transpires that my guesstimate wasn’t too far off the mark. It is, in fact, 12,681,472 (according to ABC (NYSE: DIS) figures for the nationals in November this year and for the regionals in the Jan-June period this year).

Here’s the breakdown. The 10 London-based national titles sell an average of 9,540,993 a day.

The 68 English regional dailies (mornings and evenings) together sell 2,085,116. The nine Scottish dailies sell 735,002; the six Welsh sell 183,131; and the three Northern Ireland titles sell 137,230.

However, if you add on the non-paid-for dailies – Metro (1.344,959) plus the London Evening Standard (circa 700,000) and City AM (113,321) – the total creeps up very close to the 15m mark.

In a country with an adult (15+) population of 50m, that’s pretty good penetration. If we allow for the fact that most titles will be read by two or three people, then it shows that we remain a nation of avid newspaper-readers.

I admit that some of the paid-for totals include bulk sales, but not so many as to reduce the figure by a significant margin.

I also concede that people may well read two or more titles (a national plus a regional, perhaps, or two nationals). This does reduce the overall readership somewhat.

However, these are surely eye-popping figures when one realises that online UK newspaper consumption is up in the millions too.

The power of the British press is not an illusion, and it is obviously not a thing of the past.

It sets the gloom of plunging sales in an entirely different context, does it not?

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This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.

  1. Pedantically speaking, of course, your research answers the question in your headline (“How Many Newspapers Are Still SOLD every Day In The UK?”) rather than in the first line of the story (“How many PREOPLE in Britain buy a newspaper every day?”), let alone the question of how many people actually READ a newspaper every day. For the same reason the average number of legs on people is less than two – in that case, because no-one has more and a few have less; in the newspaper case, because most buy one and a few buy more than one; and most who read one or more usually read someone else’s.

    Well, I DID say “Pedantically speaking…”!

    Still, great to have a well-researched answer. And, as you say, it’s pretty good penetration. It would be interesting for us to know – though tedious for you to find out on our behalf – how that number has declined over the past ten, 20 and 30 years…

    Thanks again!

  2. This may be the US, not the UK, but I rather think it tells the overall story better than some snapshot figures of today’s daily newspaper sales:

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_BcXP9S2J94w/SyST-_DfooI/AAAAAAAAHBo/zJ_bkBlH5Ng/s1600-h/Circulation+-+Total+w+Trends.JPG

    Read ‘em and weep…. paperboys.

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