Scotland business

Aberdeen newspapers 'outperform rivals' despite sales drop

Scotland's newspapers

Aberdeen's newspapers have outperformed most other Scottish titles despite falling circulations across the market, according to the latest sales figures.

The Press and Journal, which circulates across the north of Scotland, saw average sales in the first half of this year down 7% to 54,000.

As with the Evening Express, it outsold the city-based morning and evening papers in Dundee and Glasgow.

The Courier was down 8% to 41,000 with The Herald down 12% to 30,000.

According to the figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), in Edinburgh, The Scotsman's average daily sale fell 15% on the first half of last year to 20,000.

'Bulk sales'

Like the Glasgow-based Herald, it circulates throughout Scotland. Yet on the average day, fewer than 13,000 of those papers were being sold at full price. More than 2,000 were bulk sales to airlines, hotels and rail companies.

While traffic to digital news sites has been growing strongly for most, the number of daily users of The Scotsman's website has also fallen, by 2%, to 104,000. has seen website traffic grow by 14% to 96,000. While other titles have news websites, their traffic is not published by ABC in a comparable format.

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The group figures saw strong growth. Johnston Press, which owns The Scotsman and around 200 local papers throughout Britain, saw online traffic up 22%. Newsquest, which owns The Herald and Evening Times titles in Glasgow, saw a 24% rise year-on-year.

ABC publishes monthly figures on titles classified as "national". The July figures, published last week, showed the Scottish Daily Mail with average sales of 84,000.

The Daily Record had 160,000 on average last month. In the first half of the year, its circulation was down 12%. Its rival, the Scottish Sun, sold 211,000 on average.

The Sunday Mail, sister paper of the Record, sold an average 171,000 last month. The Sunday Post sold 150,000 on the average week, of which 113,000 were in Scotland. That followed an annual drop in the first six months of the year of 21%.

Meanwhile, the Scottish edition of The Times has seen sales increase recently, partly through innovative subscriptions linking papers with access to its news websites and apps, or through vouchers. Its UK sales in the first six months of this year were up 14% on the start of 2015, reaching 451,000. In Scotland, sales last month reached 26,500, of which 7,000 were bulk sales.

'Difficult challenge'

John McLellan, director of the Scottish Newspaper Society, said of the latest sales figures: "Hard copy sales are not the only measure of what we do. Over 90% of people read what newspapers produce each month."

The industry faces a difficult challenge in finding reliable and comparable figures for readership online and on mobile devices.

It is trying to agree a system which will help inform advertisers how many people their digital adverts are reaching, and one is expected to be in place by the end of next year.

Average Scottish print sales
Sales from Jan-June 2016 % change from Jan-June 2015
Press and Journal 54,000 -7%
Courier 41,000 -8%
Herald 30,000 -12%
Scotsman 20,000 -15%
Scotland on Sunday 19,000 -21%
Sunday Herald 22,000 -25%
Aberdeen Evening Express 27,000 -11%
Dundee Evening Telegraph 16,000 -9%
Edinburgh Evening News 20,000 -14%
Glasgow Evening Times 26,000 -14%
Paisley Daily Express 5,000 -7%

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