Indie Stores Report 2018 Vinyl Sales +10%, CDs -12.6%

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The Coalition of Independent Music Stores polled it ts members on December 2018 sales compared to last year.  Despite the rush to streaming, brick and mortar music stores appear to be holding with the help of healthy sales of vinyl, turntables and vinyl accessories. 2018 Indie store charts follow the survey results.

“The results were, of course, a mixed bag but by averaging the results, a pretty clear picture of where we are at sale-wise emerged as we enter a new year," says CIMS/ThinkIndie Executive Director Michael Bunnell. 

How did overall 2018 sales compare to 2017 sales?

The low number here was a negative-8% to a high of +16%, with the average of +1.7% for the year.

How did vinyl fare in 2018 compared to last year?

The low was a minus-3% to a high of +20%, which equates to an average of +10%.

How CD sales fared for the year compared to last?

Our low number was a negative-34% to a high of +14.5%. The average was a negative-12.6%.

How December 2018 fared overall compared to December 2017?

The answers ranged from a negative-12.5% to a high of +27%, and the average was +6.4%.

How vinyl sales fared in December 2018 compared to December 2017?

The range was from a negative-8% down to a positive of +31% up; the average was +11.6%.

How CD sales in December 2018 compared to December 2017?

The range here was from a negative-32% to a positive of +17%, with many stores flat. The average decline was-4.6%.

Did any product lines or genres stuck out as big winners for the holiday season and all year?

In order of replies, the answers were turntables, vinyl accessories, used vinyl, gifts, speakers, socks, t-shirts, cassettes, toys, used CDs, LP bags, magazines, Christmas records, and autographed cd booklets.

Was there any contributing or diminishing factors that affected sales at Christmas and throughout the year?”

and

In a perfect world of music retail, what would change?

“The answers here were very interesting, says Bunnell, “and I decided not to edit the responses even if they named some of our partner companies involved.
  • Artists, managers and labels would all realize that they are not serving their artists well by not releasing physical goods. Digital goods and physical goods should all be released on the same street date. Let the consumer decide how they want to consume music.
  • We want to remain in the CD business but have proof every day that the consumer has rejected prices of $15.98-$18.98, which contributed the most to a sales decline. CD pricing at $12.98 and below is resulting in increases in sales. This is easy to document in any store that is still serious about carrying the format.
  • Major record companies are not keeping up with vinyl demand at retail. With major drivers like a movie to promote sales, it is a shame that the entire retail chain is out of product. Yes, we are talking about Queen. These opportunities have a lifespan and we all need to attempt to anticipate demand. The lack of hit product stockpiles is limiting sales and this applies to everyone (Sony included).
  • Shipping issues have surfaced in the last couple of years, even with companies that used to provide superior service (WEA). Waiting ten days for a catalog order is severely hurting sales. We are seeing the result of job slashing in the physical departments here and it threatens us all.
  • The lack of field personnel to promote records means we are left alone to promote your products. We cannot do all the heavy lifting by ourselves as hard as we try. Co-op programs do help, but the attention to breakout stories and local and regional support of your artists is almost a thing of the past. This is a very important issue for all of your artists and I hope any label personnel reading this understands we are still here to be good partners but need support.
  • Dead vinyl inventory remains a major concern in all our stores. We attempted to document this reality by providing real-life examples at Music Biz and Summer Camp. We were ignored. This reality is eating the stores’ open to buy budgets and is getting worse. This constant loss at retail can force retail pricing up just to help cover the damage done by the stores taking chances on new artists in order to help artists and labels build careers. This is not a good answer. We are not done talking about this by any means.

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