Category Focus: Headline news

With nearly 3 million newspapers sold every week, and a retail sales value of €270 million each year, newspapers remain a major sales generator for retailers. Although more people now access news digitally than in previous years, these impressive sales figures demonstrate that it remains a smart move to give newspapers prominent positions in-store


Brand Central

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30 September 2019

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With nearly 3 million newspapers sold every week, and a retail sales value of €270 million each year, newspapers remain a major sales generator for retailers. Although more people now access news digitally than in previous years, these impressive sales figures demonstrate that it remains a smart move to give newspapers prominent positions in-store

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ where online stories and social media posts can quickly gain traction and ‘go viral’ without any form of fact-checking, coupled with the tendency of online mediums such as YouTube to lead readers towards increasingly polarizing content based on what they have previously consumed, newspapers can provide a reassuring alternative. With content written by trained journalists, fact-checked and edited by a professional team who are fully cognizant that inaccurate and unreliable content could lead to their publisher being sued for a hefty amount, printed publications are accountable and must maintain high standards. Here, representatives from leading national titles, outline how their teams are continuing, despite the challenges posed by a changing marketplace, to produce content readers are willing to pay for.


DMG Media Ireland owns the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday titles. Here, circulation manager David Vaz, outlines the group’s plans to continue to invest in quality journalism, reader offers and working closely with retail partners to build sales

Circulation figures

In a competitive market, both the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday continue to perform well, bringing great value and quality content to their readers. It is notable that once again due to the newspapers’ pricing strategy, the retail sales value increased with over €22m going through retailers’ tills during the last 12 months. The recent ABC report for January to June 2019 shows that DMG Media is not reliant on multiple copy sales to inflate its figures, instead preferring to direct all sales through retailers.

Rewarding news display

DMG Media has continued to encourage retailers to increase their facings of the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday. This has proved to be successful and has led to improved sales in participating stores. Rewarding retailers for their efforts and ensuring that together we can maintain the level of sale, it is our intention to continue with this activity and look forward to more success going forward.

Sponsorship and readership offers

We have continued to invest in excellent quality sponsorships and DMG Media is proud to have longstanding relationships with the GAA, FAI and The Curragh to name but a few. We are also proud as members of NewsBrands Ireland, to be involved as platinum sponsors of the prestigious ShelfLife National C-Store awards, which acknowledges the best convenience stores in the country. These sponsorships contribute to the brand recognition and sales of the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday.

Our readers are very important to DMG Media and we are conscious to ensure that the promotions and supplements that we offer meet their expectations. Health, fitness and lifestyle features are therefore key components of our titles. We were delighted with the response to the free first aid kits which readers had to collect tokens for in order to qualify for one, therefore increasing the regularity of sales. The Mail will never stop trying something new and we are confident that future promotions will bring further success.

Quality news content

Once again, strong editorial content has proven to be a factor when seeing sales spike and this was very evident throughout and during the aftermath of the “Mr. Moonlight” trial. Both Brexit and the Notre Dame fire also had a positive effect and in a world which seems to have been overtaken by digital platforms, it is always pleasing to see news content driving sales. Proving that news does sell, this is an important driver when shoppers pick up their daily newspaper.

The message is very clear from the Irish Daily Mail and The Irish Mail on Sunday, we will continue to invest in good quality journalism, fantastic reader offers and work closely with our retail partners to build sales.


Vincent Crowley, chairman, Newsbrands Ireland

Vincent Crowley, chairman of NewsBrands Ireland, highlights how sales of national newspapers contribute approx. €51.5m annually and regional papers contribute approx. €6.3m in margin for retailers

About NewsBrands Ireland

NewsBrands Ireland represents Ireland’s leading news publishers. Our members publish 16 print titles and a variety of news websites, mobile apps, e-papers and podcasts. These perform a vital role in society in informing citizens about issues of importance and matters that they care about – everything from politics and the economy, to education, sports, culture, and health, to exposing corruption and wrongdoing, to coverage of world changing events and the environment. NewsBrands Ireland’s remit is to promote this vital contribution made by their members’ trusted journalism to society and democracy and to convey the commercial power of news media audiences to advertisers.

This year, NewsBrands Ireland is delighted to sponsor the 2019 ShelfLife C-Store Awards which will take place this November.

Benefits to retailers in stocking titles

Consumer behaviour and reading habits continue to shift and evolve but newspapers still remain a highly profitable retail product category. A total of 3 million newspapers are sold every week and the annual total retail sales value of national and local newspapers is now approx. €270 million. Compare these figures with another category such as bottled water which is worth €178 million and it shows the continued relevance of the newspaper category. In terms of margins to the retailers, sales of national newspapers contribute approx. €51.5 million annually and regional papers contribute approx. €6.3 million.

Also, not forgetting that major news events such as the continued Brexit negotiations, forthcoming Budget, sporting events such as the races, GAA, rugby, cultural events, and investigative journalism scoops all continue to create multiple seasonal uplifts in newspaper sales. Recent research shows that 34% of news readers across all platforms prefer to read about major news events in print.

In terms of shopper behaviour, research by Amárach in 2016, shows that newspapers continue to provide significant foot traffic, draw people further into the store and are not usually purchased alone.

For example:

  • 51% of newspaper buyers do so every day
  • Each consumer that purchases a newspaper buys on average an additional three items, spending around €12 at each visit
  • 55% of newspaper buyers purchase groceries with their paper
  • 21% buy confectionery with their paper • 15% buy tobacco with their paper
  • 94% of newspaper buyers pre-plan their paper purchase (5% impulse)

Key challenges and solutions

Although our news publishers are innovating and investing hugely in their digital product, retail remains our core route to market. Even though it is challenging at times, we believe that it still has more potential, we just need to be more collaborative and creative.

One of the key challenges we are finding is that newspaper display is failing to make the most of the category. We know that good display leads to higher profit margins, so this is why our member publishers are committed to working in collaboration with retailers to proactively drive newspaper sales. As an industry, we are seeking to develop closer relationships with key multiples and independent retailers which could include bespoke display units and exciting promotional campaigns. Located in the right place and managed appropriately, newspapers will continue to be profitable for retailers. We’re happy to speak with retailers about the challenges they are facing and how newspaper sales can assist in improving their revenues.


Newspapers play an important role in shopper behaviour. Despite the decline in newspaper sales, there is a still a very strong appetite from consumers to be informed by trusted, established, and credible newspapers. With the right ideas and collaborative approach, newspapers can continue to play an important role in the retail mix.


Johnny O’Hanlon, director, Local Ireland

Local newspapers and retailers share a common bond in that they both play a key role in their local communities. Here, Johnny O’Hanlon, director of Local Ireland, outlines how retailers and newspaper titles can help each other

Local Ireland is the voice for the largest grouping of local weekly newspapers of record in the Republic of Ireland. Our titles are read by 1.7 million people each week and our reach is unique in that a Local Ireland member title is read in every parish in the country each week.

Our relationship with retailers and newsagents is also unique and has been a very positive experience dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Over the intervening years, newspapers have continued to help generate footfall into your stores. Research has shown customers buying newspapers purchase other items with an average value of €12.

Local newspapers make a vital contribution to local communities. Over 70% of our content is public service journalism. We report on local government, education, health and hold local authorities to account. We also campaign and lead on important issues to local communities.

Local newspapers and retailers are both experiencing rapid change in customer habits. While our print edition circulations are in decline, the market is still strong and overall reader numbers remain high when print, online and mobile readership are combined. We are continually innovating in our online news offering but print sales remain an important priority to our member titles.

You can help. While we recognise that there is strong competition for prime shelf space in your stores, please consider ensuring that newspapers have prominent shelf space. Research has shown that you will add value to the paper sale with an average three additional purchases.



News Ireland’s portfolio of highly influential newspapers includes The Times and The Sunday Times Ireland , The Irish Sun and The Irish Sun on Sunday . Next, the company’s business development manager Jarlath Dolly outlines why these titles are essential for retailers and consumer alike.

The purchase of a daily or weekly newspapers is still one of the main reasons to visit convenience stores. For retailers, this means they remain a lucrative category as they drive footfall and bring customers towards the store.

            • Newspapers multiply basket spend and drive footfall in the following ways, as per News Ireland’s research:
            • 75% of shoppers purchase at least one other item during their visit
            • 34% agree the main reason to visit the store is to purchase the newspaper
            • When newspapers are placed next to certain products, sales on these products grow an average of 17%
            • Loyalty in convenience is strong among newspaper buyers, who visit their chosen store an average of 4.5 times per week, vs non-newspaper purchasers, who visit an average of 3.6 times per week.

The above statistics are compiled by News Ireland, which pays the highest terms on the market to retailers. The Irish Sun and The Times feature a margin of 27.5%.


Jarlath Dolly, business development manager, News Ireland

The Irish Sun’s focus on groundbreaking crime and showbiz exclusives, campaigning journalism and its commitment to value has ensured market leadership in the daily tabloid market. It is also Ireland’s most read tabloid daily newspaper according to TGI. With the highest readership in the mid/popular market (TGI), including a strong youth readership, The Irish Sun focuses on the core pillars of sport, news, entertainment and value.

In terms of price, The Irish Sun represents the best value in the market, while an increase in the cover price last year also means an additional €2.2m was delivered through retailers’ tills.

Added-value promotions are a constant presence with The Irish Sun, including the monthly SuperEuro promotion in conjunction with some of Ireland’s top food and retail brands. All of these elements drive awareness of the brand, leading to footfall and sales for retailers.

The Sunday Times regularly features promotions and giveaways, while also maintaining a strong reputation for setting the news agenda through campaigning investigative journalism. Exclusive stories such as the revelations in the FAI and Brexit engaged readers throughout 2019, boosting sales and profits through retail.

The Sunday Times Ireland features no less than ten sections weekly, and three magazines, offering great value to Irish readers. With the highest readership of any quality newspaper on the market, the title boasts an affluent, engaged audience, notably within the business and political community, and among opinion leaders. Finally, The Sunday Times also delivers added value to readers across the year with a range of special supplements and free guides including, Rugby Champions Cup guide, property guides and the much-talked about Rich List.



The Star Newspaper Group publishes the Irish Daily Star and Star Chic magazine, complemented by Maggie McIntyre, circulation & marketing manager, the Irish Daily Star , explains how despite the challenges facing the industry, newspapers retain a unique appeal through offering a distinctive blend of news, views and entertainment

Readership demographic

We have a quite even male/female audience with a readership profile that is quite young. In fact, we are the number one choice for 15 to 34-year-olds in the daily popular read category. (Source: TGI 2018).

Circulation and readership figures

We sold 41,648 copies in the period January – June 2019 (Source: ABC). We have a policy of not “bulking copies”, all our audited figures have been actively purchased. This means all copies produced provide a margin for the retail trade. No copies are given away free in hotels, bars or cafes.

Promotional plans

We continue to invest heavily in offers that enhance the readers’ experience of the product, price-conscious consumers are always at the forefront of our minds, therefore we focus on regional and group retail price promotions. We consider the retailer at all times by maintaining cash margins for them on the original price for the duration of all price promotions. We always support editorial scoops and promotions with heavy media advertising campaigns, making sure that we attract new customers, reward existing readers and ultimately increase newsagent footfall.

The Star has a higher cover price than other tabloid titles and with this, we continue to deliver the highest cash margin to the retailer. We have to work harder and give more than our competitors to retain our high level of readership. That is why we continuously invest in the product to make sure we have higher paginations, the best added-value Star Chic magazine, poster promotions and the best Irish columnists available to our readers.

Benefits to retailers

The fact remains that there are still no other products available in-store today that can offer you an average 25% margin and are delivered today and fully returnable tomorrow with full credit for unsold stock. Key point of sale areas and valuable space should be reserved for titles that are delivering the best value to your bottom line at all times.

It’s also worth considering what titles you give prominence to on your newsstand. In 2018, the Star Newspaper Group delivered in excess of €4.4 million profit to the retail sector in Ireland. The Star delivers on average 37 cent a copy which is more per copy than our competitors, the Mirror, Sun and Mail. This should be considered when displaying these titles on the newsstand each morning.

Online content

Our website has continued to grow its audience from 1 million unique users per month this time last year to a steady 1.5 million each month, since early 2019. The Irish Daily Star has always shied away from publishing our newspaper content online. Given the strength of our newspaper brand, we see no reason to diminish it by giving content away for free, however is an ideal platform for us to promote and advertise items of specific interest to our readers and acts as a rewards portal for our readers with additional content and competitions posted daily.

Key challenges and solutions

Few industries have endured the assault on various fronts that the Irish newspaper industry has over the last decade. However, at this stage it’s fair to say that newspapers have proven stubborn and that the industry itself will survive. How many newspapers will form the ‘Irish newspaper industry’ in 10 years’ time is more open to question. The challenges have been well-ventilated at this stage but the main one is trying to retain as much of an audience for your title as possible. Without an audience you can’t possibly hope to maintain or even grow advertising revenues.

It’s not just down to readers migrating online — the digital revolution hasn’t just made it easier to consume news cheaper and faster, it’s created a wealth of alternative methods for people to occupy their precious time. Young people are now growing up without any experience of reading newspapers — even here in Ireland where the newspaper has a stronger tradition than other countries.

Trustworthiness of global newspaper industry

I think the newspaper industry globally is still generally trustworthy, and I’m not sure I’d agree that this industry in particular has been called into question. It’s probably more of a case that it’s been tarred with the same brush as online operations who operate on a different playing field where they face little sanction for publishing things that newspapers would be punished for. In terms of political or social agendas, news organisations have always had their own particular ethos, and customers will always have the right not to buy the products if they don’t like them.

For us, I think there’s still plenty of trust out there for what we do. Newspapers have always been unique – I can’t remember a time when people would buy a paper and not give out that there was ‘nothing in it’ on a particular day. But there’s an acceptance that there’s still plenty of news, views and entertainment to be had in a paper that you won’t get elsewhere.



Colm O’Reilly. CEO, The Sunday Business Post

Business Post Media Group publishes The Sunday Business Post , complemented by the daily digital ezine, Business Post AM and The Business Post website. CEO Colm O’Reilly outlines how the paper’s status as Ireland’s only dedicated business, politics and current affairs title, has played to its advantage

Readership demographic

The Sunday Business Post has a strong ABC1 audience and the readership is very evenly split between males and females. Our core readership includes senior executives, key business decision-makers, professional advisors and small business owners.

Circulation and readership figures

Despite challenging industry dynamics, The Sunday Business Post weekly engagement with readers has performed well in 2019 to date:

  • Print – latest ABC audited print circulation figures are 25,740 (average week) and our share of the key Sunday broadsheet market is being maintained
  • Digital – digital subscriptions have grown at 25% year-on-year with almost 5,000 people now availing of our flexible monthly, quarterly or annual product
  • Ezine – Business Post AM is our daily dedicated business ezine and has grown to 33,000 subscribers

We anticipate that our print sales will hold up well over the coming months due to a number of value-adding supplements and additional content that we will be publishing alongside our normal print product. We are confident that our strong digital subscription growth will move into another gear from November as we launch a new website with an enhanced multimedia offering based on strong video and podcast content. Our investment in a new publishing platform will also cater for the demand for more segmented and targeted daily ezines and newsletters.

Innovation to remain competitive

Business Post Media Group is investing heavily in a strategy to build a highly engaged community around The Sunday Business Post brand and a high quality digital/multi-media experience.

Quality and high value editorial content is at the heart of everything we do. As Ireland’s only dedicated business, politics and current affairs title, our editorial mission is to build on this position and provide our print readers and digital subscribers with deep insights and unique analysis that will help drive better decisions in their businesses. Our investigative reporting, special reports and regional supplements ensure our editorial coverage gives a holistic 360-degree view on the factors shaping business and the economy on the island of Ireland.

The acquisition and integration of events and conference operator iQuest into the Business Post Media Group allows us to provide clients with interesting and thought-provoking bespoke events. The goal of this strategic acquisition is to build on the equity of The Sunday Business Post brand and grow our community through high quality audience engagement.

We are planning a brand relaunch in November 2019 which will include a new look and feel to The Sunday Business Post newspaper, a new website with rich multi-media content and events business that can help our clients engage their customers and consumers in a highly personal and interactive way. We have invested and will continue to invest heavily in our promotional efforts through traditional means such as targeted local and national radio campaigns.

We have also increased our output on social media platforms, mainly in the form of clips advertising what’s coming up in the newspaper over the days leading up to each Sunday. In an environment where people are being marketed to very heavily through all avenues of media, we’re attempting to differentiate ourselves with more considered and less in-your-face approaches.

Promotional plans

On the retail front, we have big plans over the coming months which we hope will lead to increased interest in our title and a resulting increase in sales, benefitting both ourselves and our retail partners. Supplements on key sectors and regions of the economy are planned. We are also heavily focused on building our community which will be achieved through special offers, competitions and exclusive readers experiences. We are also working on some strategic alliances with other major brands to enhance our offer to our audience. Details will be more forthcoming soon, watch this space.

Benefits to retailers

Our niche position as Ireland’s only dedicated business, politics and current affairs title means we have a very loyal readership base and we believe our circulation and market share will always compare favourably to other Sunday broadsheet titles. Financially, the high margin available to retailers through each sale of The Sunday Business Post reflects the importance of the retail channel to publishers. Despite the tough climate in the newspaper industry over the last decade, the Sunday market has remained strong and there is still an appetite for titles such as The Sunday Business Post among consumers. We value the support of our retail partners very highly and they are vitally important to our continued strong performance in a tough trading environment.

Online content

The Sunday Business Post has invested significant resources into our digital offering over the last few years. This has led to a very pleasing increase in digital subscribers which complement our loyal readership of the print product.

We do not have dedicated teams for print and online content. The role of our newsroom is to provide deep insights and analysis of the key stories of the week. Their key job is to tell the story. The editorial team then use the technology to tell the story in an optimum way (print, digital and social media channels). Our stories are tailored to each medium. Digitally, we use video, podcasts, data and infographics to tell the story in an optimum way for desktop and mobile audiences. Having invested in a video and podcast production studio, we are now able to deliver video clips and podcasts with high production values and quality which has resulted in excellent reviews.

Our daily morning Business Post AM email newsletter has also grown a large and very loyal following. It includes new, fresh daily content and also the best of our Sunday features. Its extensive reach coupled with strong content, has led to it becoming a very valuable advertising platform for us and a major source of interest for big sponsors.

Key challenges and solutions

Changing reader habits have had major repercussions on the newspaper industry, particularly over the last decade or so. The shift to online media and the associated expectancy that ‘Content is free’ has undoubtedly impacted traditional print media. Our view is that print, while currently in decline, will plateau and the key is to innovate and adapt to the needs of our consumers.

From the point of view of The Sunday Business Post, this has led to the realisation that we need to maintain our strong independent editorial voice but also accept that we need to be more flexible in how we produce our print and online content. This hasn’t impacted our vision as a media group, but we have had to address all aspects of how the company functions, both in a commercial and editorial sense. This will help us to adapt and become stronger in the ever-changing media environment. Ultimately, if the content is good enough and the user experience is high quality, then the audience will engage and pay for content.

Trustworthiness of global newspaper industry

The Sunday Business Post is Ireland’s only independent and Irish-owned Sunday broadsheet title. That unique position is extremely important in an era where distributing inaccurate information and news is all too easy. Our view is that a strong independent editorial voice that provides balanced coverage is essential to the creditability of the media. Our political representatives also have a critical role to play in this debate to ensure that the legislation and laws of the land protect a free and independent media.



With a combined print and digital sale of 79,021 copies per day, Fran Walsh, circulation and audience director, The Irish Times, explains how the newspaper continues to innovate to satisfy readers’ demands

Readership demographic

The combined print and online readership of The Irish Times stands at 427,000 with over 300,000 (305,000) classed as the ‘main shopper’. The TGI (2018) report also shows that some 25% or 106,000 of these average daily readers are under 35.

Latest circulation figures

The latest ABC report (Jan-June 19) shows The Irish Times has a combined print and digital sale of 79,021 copies per day for the six months ending 30 June 2019. This compares with 79,255 for the equivalent period last year and with 79,406 for the six months ending 31 December 2018.

Innovation to remain competitive

The Irish Times is constantly innovating in both print and digital formats. We recently redesigned our Ticket magazine and moved it to the Weekend edition and likewise on the digital front, our ePaper app has been relaunched, offering our readers a better user experience with added new features.

Promotional plans

We run various promotions across all our platforms; our ever-popular Token Collect promotions will continue with exciting and high value prizes over the next three months. These serve to ensure existing readers are rewarded while extensive media campaigns for these activities attract new readers and customers into your store.

Regional promotions are another important activity which specifically target retailers outside of the main metropolitan areas. Our very successful Rugby World Cup promotion in conjunction with DHL has just concluded and sales have increased over the promotional period – which all adds up to extra revenue for retail. All our promotions are supported with retail posters; by the end of 2019 we will have produced and supplied nearly 350,000 posters which are distributed into retail. We have a dedicated team of merchandisers who regularly support all in-store promotions and newspaper stands are also available to maximise your newspaper display.

Benefits to retailers

The Irish Times offers one of the highest cash margins to retailers. In 2019, if the newspaper is sold at the RRP, retailers will share in a cash margin of circa €9 million. The Weekend edition is dated on sale until Sunday; retailers can maximise the revenue from this issue by leaving The Irish Times on sale until close of business on Sunday. When the Weekend edition is left on sale for the full weekend, we have found that sales can be increased by nearly 5%.

Online content

Traffic to has grown consistently since the launch of the paid content strategy. Monthly page impressions to the site and apps now exceeds 61m with 11.9m users per month. These numbers are very impressive, and we regularly use these online assets to promote in-paper promotions such as our print-only Token Collects. We have also built up a large database of readers and we regularly communicate to them on print-only promotions such as our Unique Code promotion which appears exclusively in the Saturday Magazine.

Challenges and solutions

There are a number of challenges facing the newspaper industry. These vary from freely available online content across many platforms and providers to the changes in customers’ reading habits across the week.

The Irish Times invests substantially in marketing campaigns (especially on weekends), driving readers to retail and in many cases these readers find it difficult to locate the newspaper in-store. As an industry we all need to ensure we capitalise on every sales opportunity and it has never been more important that our retail partners give ‘news’ as a category prominent positioning in-store to ensure both availability and visibility which will ensure we maximise every sales and revenue opportunity.

Trustworthiness of global newspaper industry

In many industry surveys, The Irish Times scores highly as a trusted source of ‘news’ which is a testament to the resources and talent employed by the newspaper.




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