The St. Petersburg Times bucked national trends as one of the few major daily newspapers to grow Sunday circulation, according to figures released Monday.
A 2 percent increase in Sunday circulation paired with flat numbers for daily circulation helped the Times widen its gap as the largest paper in Florida. It rose from 19th largest to 14th largest Sunday paper in the country.
Nationwide, daily average circulation for the 635 newspapers in the survey fell 5 percent compared with a year earlier, and Sunday circulation was down about 4 percent, according to a report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
The falloff was less steep than the 9 percent daily circulation drop in the previous period through March. But it showed continued pressures in an era of economic stress and easy availability of free news on the Web.
Some papers have made strategic decisions to emphasize boosting revenues over circulation by raising newsstand and subscription prices and cutting back distribution to unprofitable areas. In fact, several of the papers suffering the biggest year-over-year circulation drops, such as the San Francisco Chronicle, have raised their prices.
Of the 25 biggest newspapers by circulation, only the Wall Street Journal and the Dallas Morning News posted weekday gains. The biggest loser in daily circulation was Newsday of Long Island, N.Y., down 12 percent.
Hardest hit among Florida papers was the Palm Beach Post, which absorbed a 12 percent drop in daily circulation and an 11 percent drop in Sunday circulation.
In the regional competition between the Times and the Tampa Tribune, the Times gained ground in both daily and Sunday circulation. The Times' daily circulation does not include copies of tbt* Tampa Bay Times, the company's free daily newspaper.
Joe DeLuca, the Times' Tampa publisher and a vice president, said he was particularly pleased with posting continued double-digit percentage gains in both daily and Sunday circulation in the competitive Hillsborough County market.
"It is also extremely encouraging that, despite the very challenging regional economic conditions, our focus on growing paid circulation is generating results for our advertisers and yielding solid year-over-year gains in revenue," he said. "We fully expect that trend to continue in support of our ongoing strategy to be the newspaper of choice for all of Tampa Bay."