The Audit Bureau of Circulations has reported newsprint circulation has fallen 2.5% in the first quarter of 2011. Industry body The Newspaper Works has attributed the drop to soft retail conditions and tightened consumer spending.

Broadsheet newspapers suffered less than tabloids, with The Age,The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald essentially steady and combined Saturday sales fell 1.8 per cent.

The Newspaper Works CEO Tony Hale said while the decline continued a negative trend set last year, he could draw a positive in the strength of broadsheets.

“Significantly, in the latest quarter the broadsheets have performed strongly,” he says, “with combined Monday to Friday sales of the three largest broadsheets slipping by a negligible 0.2 per cent.”

“Sales of regional newspapers also held up very well, increasing by 0.1%, a reflection of the important role they continue to play in their own communities,” he says.