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Traditional music retail continues to decline, though Blockbuster helps keep CDs on the high street

By | Published on Wednesday 25 February 2009


So, this is a bit depressing. A new report prepared by research firm Millward Brown for the Entertainment Retailers Association, the results of which are published in Music Week this week, reveals that over a quarter of the UK’s independent music stores went out of business last year, taking the number of indie record shops down from 408 to just 300. There were 1064 ten years ago.

That gloomy figure appears in a Music Week feature on the future of music retail on the high street. Zavvi and Woolies are now gone of course, while smaller chains like MVC, Music Zone and Fopp have all disappeared in the last three years too; add the decline in truly independent stores to that, and you’d be forgiven for wondering if music retail has a long term home of the high street at all as the world becomes increasingly digitally minded when it comes to home entertainment.

On the up side, HMV have, of course, expanded, buying up albeit a small number of stores from both the defunct Fopp and Zavvi chains, and former execs at both Zavvi and Woolies are planning on re-opening a handful of stores that they have bought from the two chain’s respective administrators, both on a similar model to their former employers, but with new names.

And Music Week make much of the fact Blockbuster, themselves having to deal with the looming decline in the video rental business as TV on demand services grow, are moving into the music retail space. They report that about 350 Blockbuster stores now sell CDs, while other outlets in the video shop’s chain sell music at certain times of year. There’s something ironic though also predictable that, while traditional music sellers have had to diversify into video and gaming to make ends meet, that a video retailer is having to add music to the mix to make things add up.