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Indie record stores see 44% growth in album sales

By | Published on Thursday 25 July 2013

Record Store Day

It can still be a tricky business running an independent record store, especially outside of a major metropolis, but here’s some good news from the indie sector: collectively the UK’s independent record shops saw album sales grow 44% year-on-year in the first half of 2013, despite British album sales overall slipping 1.5%.

We know this because of stats from the Entertainment Retailer’s Association, based on Official Chart Company data.

Two phenomena in particular helped cause this trend, the continued success of Record Store Day in April, and the ongoing vinyl revival which – although often exaggerated in the mainstream press – is helping some in the independent entertainment retail sector, the indies usually dedicating more space to the classic album format.

ERA notes that while indie stores account for 3.2% of the albums market overall, they account for more than 50% of vinyl sales. And about one in seven of all albums sold in indie shops are sold on vinyl (compared to one in 250 elsewhere).

Presumably the collapse of HMV in January also helped, partly because it resulted in nearly 100 of the chain’s stores closing, and partly because, for a few weeks at least, it sparked a new interest in high street music shopping.

It’s possible too that the closing of the VAT loophole that enabled Channel Islands-based mail-order operations to sell CDs at 20% less than high street sellers has helped, though Amazon generally continues to undercut everyone else even without that advantage.

Commenting on these stats, ERA Chairman Paul Quirk told CMU: “These first-half sales figures reveal a stunning result for indie record shops. Although the odds are stacked against them, indies have fought back”.

He continued: “With Record Store Day they have created the first major new UK sales promotion for music in 20 years and as consumers re-waken to the joys of analogue, they have driven the growth of vinyl sales. Although only a tiny part of the music market overall, indie stores are driving some of the most exciting new initiatives in music, as well as continuing to support and help break new talent”.

For fans of lists, here is a list of the twenty best selling albums via indie record stores so far this year. It’s interesting to compare where each record is in indie store sales, compared to where it would be in an overall chart of sales so far this year (the number in brackets after each title). And it’s also interesting that all but six of these albums are indie label releases.

1. David Bowie – The Next Day (15)
2. Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (218)
3. Stereophonics – Graffiti On The Train (21)
4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (5)
5. Courteeners – Anna (160)
6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (108)
7. Atoms For Peace – Amok (158)
8. Queens Of The Stone Age – Like Clockwork (71)
9. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart (123)
10. National – Trouble Will Find Me (143)
11. Emeli Sand̩ РOur Version Of Events (2)
12. Savages – Silence Yourself (478)
13. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City (91)
14. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (513)
15. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts (226)
16. Palma Violets – 180 (228)
17. Mumford & Sons – Babel (13)
18. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg (8)
19. Texas – The Conversation (128)
20. British Sea Power – Machineries Of Joy (43)