ERA: Independent record store numbers reach 10-year high

ERA: Independent record store numbers reach 10-year high

Independent record stores have reached a 10-year high in terms of the number of outlets in the UK.

It shows how the indies have been able to operate alongside streaming platforms and supermarkets to reach music fans.

The figures are published today (March 6) in the 2024 ERA Yearbook, the statistical guide to the music, video and games sectors from digital entertainment and retail association ERA. It is available free to download here.

ERA research confirms that the number of indie record shops in the UK hit 461 in 2023, compared with 339 in 2014. A further 35 shops were added to the estate in 2023.

In contrast, the total number of physical outlets which sell music in the UK has declined over the period from 10,391 to 2,486. The number of supermarkets now selling physical music fell to 1,072 in 2023. The 'Multiples' sector, which includes chains such as Urban Outfitters, WH Smith and Matalan, increased from 184 to 320 in the past year.

As a result of that overall market shift, the indies have increased their share of a shrinking physical music sector, which now only accounts for 8% of overall music sales. In 2014 indies represented just 3% of music outlets; in 2023 they represented 23% of the total.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “In an entertainment market always full of surprises, this is in a class of its own. Despite largely being run by owner managers, indies have seen off competition from some of the largest and best-funded companies in the land. Indies have found their niche and they are here to stay.

“Couple this with the remarkable return of HMV, now back in its Oxford Street home, and it shows that despite the overwhelming success of music streaming, many music fans remain committed to the high street physical music buying experience.”

Overall, UK spending on music streaming subscriptions, vinyl, CDs, downloads and cassettes grew by 9.6% based on value in 2023.

A key factor in the resilience of high street stores has been the vinyl revival. The ERA Yearbook reveals that vinyl sales reached £177.3m in the UK in 2023, nearly seven times higher than in 2014.

“It was high street stores who first identified resurgent demand for vinyl,” said Bayley, “and they have succeeded in holding on to a disproportionate share.”

Drew Hill, deputy CEO of Utopia Music, said: “Whilst supermarkets and other large retailers have gradually shifted focus from physical music, independent record stores have picked up the ball and ran with it, adapting to meet the market gap and capitalising on growing fan demand. Record stores provide a unique space for music lovers to listen, collect and engage with their favourite artists in a way that taps into superfandom, and co-exists alongside digital streaming. It remains crucial that we continue to provide unbeatable service to thriving record retailers to maximise potential and ensure their bright future.”

A particular factor for indie stores has been the rise of Record Store Day. This year’s edition takes place on Saturday, April 20, 2024.

The ERA Yearbook reveals the facts and figures behind music, video and games in 2023, during which combined revenues grew by 7% to £11.9bn. 

PHOTO: Banquet


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