Figures released today by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show sales of Monday to Sunday metropolitan newspapers fell by 3% in the three months ending March, 2010, compared with the corresponding period in 2009.

However, the sector’s representative body, The Newspaper Works, assures advertisers that Australians continued to buy 20 million newspapers every week in the latest quarter, a figure which the body’s CEO, Tony Hale, has described as “very significant relative to the total Australian population”.

Between January and March 2009, major news events at home included the Victorian bushfires and the Federal Government’s household stimulus package in response to the GFC, added Hale.

Hale also cited the inauguration of US President Barack Obama produced a surge in newspaper sales in Australia.

“These three events generated enormous interest and helped drive newspaper sales. By contrast, the first three months of 2010 have not produced stories of the same magnitude and as a result we’ve seen, not surprisingly, slightly lower results,” Hale said.

Hale also pointed out that Australian newspapers were outperforming their US and UK, where sales of US weekday newspapers dropped by 8.7%, while in the UK, circulation in the same period fell 4.5%.

This comes following a report was released by the Bureau in November 2009 indicating that newspaper circulations had fallen 1.1%.