Manchester Evening News sees print circulation more than halve during lockdown

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The Manchester Evening News suffered the biggest print circulation fall of any regional daily newspaper in the country during the coronavirus lockdown, new figures have revealed.

According to the latest ABC figures, the Reach-owned title saw its daily circulation drop by 53% from 29,613 to 13,993 during the six months from January to June.

Other Northern regionals suffered steep if less dramatic falls. The Liverpool Echo saw only an 8% dip, from 26,600 to 24,340, the Newcastle Chronicle fell 12% from 15,869 to 13,978, the Hull Daily Mail dropped 14% from 15,856 to 13,559, and the Teesside Gazette dipped 11% from 12,157 to 10,794.

Elsewhere, Newsquest's York Press fell 16% to 8,257, JPI Media's Sheffield Star dropped 8% to 9,740 and the Yorkshire Evening Post was down 19% to 6,351. The Lancashire Post fell 10% to 5,907. No circulation figures for the Yorkshire Post are yet available.

The Press Gazette cites a sudden dip in the number of free copies the MEN was able to distribute as the main reason behind its decline. It distributed 14,364 copies for free between January and March, but that fell to just 452 during lockdown.

The Manchester Evening News is however the biggest regional paper online in the country, with its audience likely to have increased during the lockdown.

In February, just before lockdown, Reach was reporting that it was recording 109million monthly page views.

But last month, the publisher revealed it would be cutting 550 jobs - 12% of its total workforce - after newspaper sales and advertising were badly hit by the pandemic.