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The vinyl frontier RSD 2017: INDIE retailers say vinyl revival WILL CONTINUE, despite GROWTH SLOWDOWN
RETAIL BY DANIEL GUMBLE
As Record Store Day looms, a raft of leading independent retailers and experts have told Music Week that there is still plenty of life in the vinyl revival - despite figures showing the format’s explosive growth is finally slowing down.
Last week, the BPI’s Q1 2017 figures showed vinyl sales up 35.8% year-on-year. That still represents robust growth, but was significantly below the 61.8% uptick during the same period in 2016 and the 69% lift in Q1 2015.
In spite of the new data, prominent figures from the sector say there is more growth to come for the format. And with the 10th annual Record Store Day just around the corner on April 22, many retailers will be looking for another timely sales boost.
Speaking to Music Week, Megan Page, Record Store Day coordinator, said: “Over the last 10 years, [vinyl] has gone from 0.1% to 14% of the market. There is always that possibility of reaching a point where you can’t grow any more, but there is no reason for vinyl sales to decline in the UK any time soon.“
And Jon Tolley, manager of Music Week Awards Independent Retailer award-winner Banquet Records in Kingston, said sales are likely to remain strong for the foreseeable future.
”It’s no longer a weird thing to be buying records,” Tolley said. “Two or three years ago it was a kooky, hipster thing. Now it’s normal - you can buy vinyl in Sainsbury’s now. We certainly don’t see sales tailing off.”
Meanwhile, ERA CEO Kim Bayley is optimistic
Vinyl fans: Indie retailers are backing the format for big things in 2017 and beyond that Record Store Day 2017 could help deliver a storming start to Q2.
“[Sales] will continue to grow this year, and Record Store Day could well provide a little uplift in sales,” she said. “I expect we’ll see another 40% growth overall this year. It’s hard to predict because it’s dependent on the day and the releases, but indications are we should hit a Record Store Day peak.”
According to the BPI, vinyl now accounts for 4.5% of total label revenues, making it increasingly important as an income stream, despite relatively low unit volumes.
But, with supermarkets getting in on the act, the indies’ share of the vinyl market is now being chipped away. In 2014, supermarkets took precisely 0% of the market. Now, according to
ERA, it’s up to 6.9%, while independent stores dropped from 31.6% to 24.7%. Nonetheless, most indies are unperturbed, with 40 new record shops opening for business last year.
“Supermarkets are not the enemy,” said Tolley. “If in Sainsbury’s, you have a kid with their parents and their dad picks up a record and it serves as a stepping stone, that’s great.”
Alan Jordan, founder of Newcastle retailer Reflex, concurs: “It’s an indication of where the market is. If a supermarket is selling records it’s a good advert for vinyl. We carry around 2,000 titles in our shop. I don’t see them as a threat, I see them as expanding the market.”
Read Jon Tolley’s Record Store Day 2017 Viewpoint on p41.