Digital disruption causes UK national newspaper sales to drop two-thirds since 2000

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

UK national newspaper sales have fallen by nearly two-thirds since 2000, according to Press Gazette analysis of ABC circulation data.

The figure demonstrates the effect of digital disruption on the traditional print-centric newspaper business model.

According to Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) data, 16 daily and Sunday paid-for national newspapers had a combined circulation of 21.2 million in January 2000.

10 years later, and after the launch of the Daily Star Sunday in 2002, this figure had fallen to 16.4 million across 17 papers, representing a drop of 23 per cent.

In January 2020, total circulation of the 17 print publications stood at 7.4 million, which is 55 per cent less than 10 years earlier. 



The growth of mobile technology and social media is widely considered the driving factor for the plummeting print newspaper sales. 

As people move from print to digital for their news coverage, circulation revenues from newsstand sales and print advertising revenues have shrunk.

The Sunday People, owned by Reach PLC, suffered the worst as it lost 91 per cent over the past 20 years, including 74 per cent in the last decade.

The figures include only titles that are still in continuous publication today.

In contrast, after the i paper launched in 2010, it grew its circulation from 133,472 in January 2011 to 217,182 in January this year, but its peak was 306,578 in May 2013.