If you thought piracy had killed off the high street music store, think again.
“Bricks and mortar” entertainment retailers — stores customers can walk into which sell physical products like records, CDs and DVDs — have reached record numbers in the UK.
There are now 14,727 physical shops in the UK which sell entertainment, up a massive 42% from last year, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). The report said that 28.2% of music sales are now purchased physically, with streaming and downloads accounting for the rest.
However, record store aficionados shouldn’t jump for joy just yet. While such an increase may seem miraculous in today’s digital age, “specialist” shops like HMV and independent music stores still declined by 6 locations over the last year.
So who’s picking up the slack? The answer lies in the new method of reporting. Other retail chains like Boots, Primark, WHSmith and Urban Outfitters — which are known as “multiples” — were included for the first time this year.
This almost doubled the number such chains reported to 5,566 from 2,814. There was also an increase in the number of supermarkets selling music — up 7,078 to 8,667.
ERA chief executive Kim Bayley remained optimistic about the future of physical outlets despite the new methodology of reporting, saying the internet need not spell the end of physical media.
“Conventional wisdom has always suggested that the internet spelled the end for physical entertainment stores, but these numbers show that traditional retail still has a place, particularly for impulse purchases and gifts. After all, you can’t gift-wrap a download or a stream.”
Despite a decade of falling demand for CDs, musically.com notes that the retail value for music (physical, downloads and streaming) was up 3.5% to £1.06 billion in 2015, suggesting the industry may have finally stabilised after being rocked by the internet for more than 15 years.