Times and Independent growths slow

Growth in sales of the broadsheets The Times and The Independent are slowing down despite the recent launch of compact versions of the titles.

Total sales of The Times increased by 3,000 to 658,637 during March and total sales of The Independent rose by less than 2,000 to 258,012. But sales of The Times are lower than they were in January, when it sold 660,713 copies.

When bulk copies, given away free to readers, are stripped out of the figures, The Times has a circulation of 617,220, down 1 per cent year on year. The Independent's sales, excluding bulks, was 224,415, an increase of 18 per cent year on year.

Paul Thomas, the press director at MindShare, said: "The Times is still not up there. Where is this unique new format that's supposed to change its sales? It's still lower than January."

Other newspapers, notably The Guardian, have been watching the fortunes of The Times and The Independent closely while considering whether to launch in a new format. The Guardian's sales, excluding bulk copies, were down 10.5 per cent year on year to 354,852.

The Daily Telegraph's headline figure was up from February by 17,000 copies to 923,042 but this was due to a heavy reliance on bulk copies.

With bulks stripped out, its sales were down a further 7,000 copies to 866,549.

The red-tops will be relying on the recent scandal involving David and Victoria Beckham to revive their fortunes for March: in February, The Sun's sales fell 5 per cent year on year to 3,333,115. The Daily Mirror fell 5 per cent to 1,900,528.

Thomas said newspapers were increasingly using bulk copies to make their sales seem more flattering. "In February 1996, there were 166,000 bulks across daily newspapers - now there are 360,000," he commented.

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