Indie retailers and HMV stores across England have been shuttered as the government launched a nationwide lockdown until December 2.
In the latest issue of Music Week, we look at the impact of the latest Covid restrictions during the busiest period for new releases, including albums from Kylie Minogue, Little Mix, AC/DC, The Kanneh-Masons and Gary Barlow.
HMV has confirmed it will close all its stores in England and move to online orders during the lockdown, though other stores including Rough Trade and Music Week Awards winner Banquet will maintain a click & collect service.
“We expect our walk-up stores to play an important role in the coming weeks, as many customers have already expressed a desire to collect in person, and thereby make the online delivery saving,” said Rough Trade director Stephen Godfroy.
The timing is also a blow for the Black Friday vinyl promotion coordinated by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
Here, ERA CEO Kim Bayley opens up about how retailers will try and meet demand from customers during the pandemic…
How can you help physical retailers at this time – what lessons were learned during the last lockdown?
“The first lockdown was a potent reminder of the creativity and entrepreneurialism of entertainment retailers at their best with some indie retailers setting up whole new mail order operations literally overnight. Despite the very difficult circumstances, I think we can trust digital services and retailers to give their best whatever coronavirus throws at us.”
Is there concern about this lockdown happening in peak Q4 sales time – will retailers lose out on a large chunk of those sales?
“What is really concerning is that any hopes we had of Q4 making up the ground we lost in the first lockdown have now been dashed. This is precisely the time when normally we begin to see gift-buying beginning to take off. It is difficult to know how much of this business we will be able to retain? as a lack of in-store environment will likely affect in impulse purchases in particular. The clear message to the government has to be that however pressing the need for a second lockdown, High Street retailers need support to get through it.”
Any hopes we had of Q4 making up the ground we lost in the first lockdown have now been dashed
Will you be urging supermarkets to support physical music at this time? Are you confident about physical supply and Amazon online sales?
“A lot was learned in the first lockdown and we hope supply chain issues can be avoided this time around. As far as supermarkets and Amazon is concerned, no doubt they will do a great job, as ever. What you cannot expect is that you can close down literally hundreds of indie and specialist outlets and suffer no impact on physical sales. The stores may be in the frontline, but ultimately artists and songwriters and labels will suffer too.”
The Black Friday initiative on November 27 falls during the lockdown – how will that affect the vinyl promotion?
“Black Friday - like Record Store Day drops before it - will clearly operate online [for stores in England] from 6pm. Online sales are just as much first come first served as offline sales – it's just a virtual queue. Clearly, parts of the UK are possibly open on Black Friday [Wales, Scotland]. Where shops have to close it will be online (or click and collect), but where shops can open it will happen both in store and online."
To read the full report on the lockdown, pick up the latest issue – or subscribers can click here.
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