March's sales figures show Express decline

The ABC figures due for release on Thursday evening will show the

Daily Express failing to climb back above the one million circulation

mark, even if a controversial maildrop is included in the newspaper's

bulk figures.



Leaked figures obtained by Campaign show the Express reporting an

initial March ABC of 936,000, down 10.4 per cent year on year. The

figure also marks a drop of 1.5 per cent from last month's 950,523,

which marked the paper's first ever slide below the one million

mark.



These initial figures do not include four doordrops totalling an

estimated 960,000 copies, which also took place during the month.

Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers is understood to be in negotiations

with auditors over the extra copies.



If, as expected, the drops are included in the final ABC they should

provide the Express with an additional 32,000 in bulk sales. However,

even though this would represent a month-on-month increase, it will not

be enough to move back above the one million mark.



The Express doordrop has provoked opposition among rivals, who have

complained that receiving door-delivered copies does not involve any

choice on the part of a customer. There have also been complaints that a

proportion of the Express deliveries could have arrived in the evening,

when they were unlikely to have been read.



Express Newspapers can point to more positive news in the performance of

the Sunday Express, which has seen its circulation rise

significantly.



The paper's March ABC of 963,000 is an increase of 10 per cent over last

month and an upturn of 0.3 per cent year on year. More encouragement

comes from the Daily Star, which rose 9.1 per cent year on year to

666,000.



However, Desmond's mid-market rival, the Daily Mail, has stretched its

lead with a 1.2 per cent year-on-year increase to 2,405,000. The other

strong performer was The Observer, which posted an 11 per cent

year-on-year increase to 446,000.



NEWSPAPER CIRCULATIONS MARCH 2001

ABC ABC ABC % Increased/

March 2001 Feb 2001 March 2000 decreased

Daily Express 936 951 1,045 -10.4

Daily Mail 2,405 2,394 2,377 1.2

The Sun 3,515 3,494 3,594 -2.2

The Mirror 2,189 2,212 2,260 -3.2

Daily Star 666 557 611 -1.6

The Daily Telegraph 1,021 1,011 1,038 -0.6

The Times 717 723 721 9.1

The Guardian 400 397 399 0.2

The Independent 226 224 224 1.1



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