Indie music retailers report 23% growth across all formats (including CDs)

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A survey of Coalition of Independent Music stores across the United States shows year-end sales increased an average of 23% across all physical formats.

Vinyl sales increased by an average of 60% and CD sales by 16%.

Several sales categories were particularly bright according to the survey, including turntables, vinyl accessories and unsurprisingly vinyl records, especially hip-hop and the classic catalog.

The pandemic continues to weigh heavily on independent retailers, but some have also found positives. Many stores reported that Covid caused everyone to take a closer look at their businesses by finding ways to get creative, which ultimately led to growth in certain areas.

“Overall what was very exciting for me to see is that our stores saw growth in all formats (even CD) and some in astonishing numbers,” wrote Andrea Pascal, Executive Director of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores and ThinkIndie Distribution. Despite the pandemic, independent stores “still do the majority of their business within brick-and-mortar walls,” siad Paschal, “which speaks to the importance of the communities these stores have cultivated with their customers. this will only continue with all the vinyl discoveries that have happened over the last two years in particular.

CIMS Survey of Independent Music Stores 2021

How does December 2021 compare to December 2020?

On the low end up 3%, On the high end up 53%, with an average for the group up 23%

And December 2021 compared to 2019?

On the flat low end, On the high end up 56%, with an average for the group up 30%

How do vinyl sales in December 2021 compare to December 2020?

On the low end down 5%, On the high end up 42%, with an average for the group up 20%

How do vinyl sales in December 2021 compare to December 2019?

On the low end up 11%, On the high end up 77%, with an average for the group of 45%

How do CD sales in December 2021 compare to December 2020?

On the low end down 22%, On the high end up 75%, with an average for the group up 16%

How do CD sales in December 2021 compare to December 2019?

On the low end down 40%, On the high end up 67%, with an average for the group up 8%. I would add that most of our stores have seen growth here, with quite a few double-digit accounts.

Global sales figures 2021

How do vinyl sales for 2021 compare overall to last year?

On the low end up 9%, On the high end up 103%, with an average for the group of 60%

How do vinyl sales for 2021 compare overall to 2019?

On the low end up 10%, On the high end up 141%, with an average for the group of 67%

How do CD sales for 2021 compare overall to 2020?

On the low end down 4%, On the high end up 78%, with an average for the group up 28%

How do CD sales for 2021 compare overall to 2019?

On the low end down 50%, On the high end up 25%, with an average for the group down 6%

What percentage of your overall sales was used for the product in 2021?

On the low end 9%, On the high end up to 25%, with an average for the group of 25%

How do 2021 used sales compare to 2020 used sales?

On the low end down 21%, On the high end up 73%, with an average for the group up 29%

How do 2021 used sales compare to 2019 used sales?

On the low end down 32%, On the high end up 27%, with an average for the group up 4%

What percentage of your sales in 2021 were in-store sales?

On the low end 65%, On the high end 100%, with an average for the group of 85%

Of your overall 2021 sales, what percentage is online sales?

On the low end 0%, On the high end 35%, with an average for the group of 15%

Bruce Houghton is founder and publisher of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and is senior adviser to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the founder and president of Skyline Artists Agency and a professor at Berklee College Of Music.

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