According to February ABC figures published today, the tabloids beat the mid-market and qualities in February, nudging up 0.22% as a sector. The sector was fuelled by promotions and sordid revelations about the private lives of footballers John Terry and Ashley Cole.
The 45p Daily Mirror led the way, up 1.36% on January, to register a circulation of 1,234,967 in the month.
The 30p Sun, which is price discounting to 20p in London and the north of England, fell below the three million mark in February, to record a circulation of 2,972,763.
The fall meant it lost its mantle – for February at least – as the biggest selling national newspaper in the country to sister title, the News of The World.
The Sun was slightly up (0.63%) on the year, unlike the Daily Mirror which was down (6.91%) on the year, as was every other national daily title, except the Daily Star.
Rob Painter, acting marketing director for The Sun and the News of The World, labelled February "infidelity month". He said it also benefited from "some great marketing" at the Rupert Murdoch-owned titles.
Promotional offers during the month included discount tickets to Alton Towers and £9.50 European holidays.
During the same period, the quality newspapers found the going tougher, with all of them falling on their January figures.
The Daily Telegraph was below the 700,000 mark for the second successive month – a fall that can be partly attributed to removing its bulk copies at the start of the year.
The Telegraph's headline circulation figure was 685,177, although its year-on-year fall was less precipitous than its quality rivals.
The Times and The Guardian, both of which have also scraped bulk copies, slumped 16.9% to a circulation of 505,062 and 16.38% to 284,514 on the year, respectively.
The Guardian said its February figure could be partly attributed to its decision to reduce the number of copies it sells in Europe following a strategic review. Its European edition recorded a circulation of 18,880 in February.
Across the mid-market, the Daily Mail recorded a circulation of 2,111, 204, down 0.43% on January, while the Daily Express fell 0.25% to 672,951.