Tabloid format boosts The Times' ABC figure

The Times' decision to launch a tabloid version helped to boost its circulation in December, while many of its rivals suffered declines.

Figures from News International show that the tabloid edition of The Times sold an average 54,121 each day. This helped to boost The Times' total circulation to 636,331, up 2.3 per cent on the previous month, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Independent's sales failed to hit the heights it achieved in November but, thanks to the launch of its compact edition, sales were up by 9 per cent to 237,816 on September, the month before the compact launch.

Hollinger's The Daily Telegraph, which has prepared a dummy tabloid edition, lost 32,000 readers year on year, showing 911,796 sales.

The Sun's circulation fell to its lowest point in 30 years. As the editor, Rebekah Wade, celebrated her first year in charge, the title's circulation fell to 3,276,554, down 5 per cent in the past year. The Daily Mirror also lost readers, down by 6.5 per cent year on year to 1,900,155.

The Daily Mail's total sales were flat but its rival , the Daily Express, lost 60,000 compared with December 2002. Its total circulation was 906,375.

Few titles posted year-on-year growth, with the Daily Star, The Independent, Daily Star Sunday, The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Times and The Business the exceptions.

Charlie Varley, the managing partner at Walker Media, said: "In the short term, I think you would say The Times tabloid launch has been a moderate success and The Independent launch a significant success. The issue's when they will take the plunge and stop distributing in both formats."

Varley said of the December circulation figures: "This was probably seen by the newspapers as a disappointing set of results."