Sunday, December 21, 2008

Daily papers suffer as Detroit suffers

Eileen Kennedy writes:

Once upon a time a reader could open up the Sunday paper, no matter where they were, and be overwhelmed by page after page of ads for brand new cars.

But that was then and this is now.

Newspapers, including the New York Times-owned Worcester Telegram & Gazette, are facing dramatic declines in ad revenues, in part because auto dealers — facing their own financial crisis — are pulling out of print almost entirely. An analysis by the Worcester Business Journal of car ads in Central Massachusetts’ largest daily showed that its special car-focused Sunday section has seen a severe drop in auto-related advertising in just one year.

The WBJ’s analysis is backed up by local dealers’ marketing strategies.

“In the last sixty days, we’ve pulled pretty far back,” said Herb Chambers, of Herb Chambers Cos., which has about 40 dealerships in Southern New England, including in Auburn and Westborough.

For Chambers, the pull out from print “started in October, which was very difficult and in November it was just a blood bath. Car sales on a national basis have been down between 37 and 38 percent while we’ve down about half that, in the high teens. So we’re doing better than everyone else we know and it’s still very difficult.”

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