Trinity Mirror has backed down in its tabloid price war with Rupert Murdoch's Sun on Sunday after just one week, returning the Sunday Mirror and the People to £1 across most of the UK.
Last weekend the publisher moved swiftly to halve the price of the Sunday Mirror and the People, to match Murdoch, who revealed that the Sun's new Sunday edition would hit the shelves at just 50p.
The Sunday Mirror was on sale at half price in the Carlton (London), Meridian (south coast) and Central (Midlands) regions, however the strategy failed to support sales which fell by 30% week-on-week to about 1.22m.
Sales of the Sunday Mirror are still ahead of where they were before the News of the World closed – 1.09m – however Trinity Mirror is returning the title to £1 in all regions except Carlton and the North & Tay regions of Scotland.
The People, which cut its price from £1 to 50p in the same regions as its stablemate, was nevertheless the worst hit of the Sun's tabloid rivals, with sales down 35% week-on-week to 516,000. Prior to the closure of the NoW the title was selling 474,000 copies. This weekend the People will only stay at 50p in the North and Tay regions of Scotland.
One media buying industry executive said: "I'm a little surprised that Trinity Mirror has done this so quickly, is it because they can't afford it or because they don't think they can compete?
"I expected the price battle to last at least a couple of weeks. If the Mirror capitulates early then it could prompt Murdoch to move up from 50p much sooner than he had planned."
Richard Desmond's Daily Star Sunday, which suffered a 22% fall in sales last weekend to 501,000, is thought to be keeping its 50% price cut at 50p. The paper was selling 306,000 before the closure of the NoW.
Desmond opted not to cut the price of the Sunday Express, which saw sales fall by 11% to 519,000, which was selling 538,000 before the News of the World closed.
News International is thought to have backed this weekend's second Sunday edition of the Sun with slightly less media spend than for its debut on 26 February.
The first issue sold 3.22m, however media agency executives expect the title to sell far fewer copies this weekend.
"The first week there were a lot of curiosity buyers and huge free publicity because it was such an event," said one media buying source. "Sales show there was no major uplift for the Saturday Sun, or the first few days this week. The expectation is that Sunday Sun sales will drop significantly. Cutting prices comes straight out of profit and doesn't make sense."