As the UK nations settle into January Covid lockdowns, the impact appears to be clear in terms of physical music sales.
While music chains such as HMV and indie retailers close their doors, even supermarkets may look to squeeze space for physical music. Amazon will continue to fulfill sales of CDs and vinyl, while music retailers switch to online orders.
According to Official Charts Company data, week-on-week album consumption was down 12.5% to 1,518,593. For physical albums, the week-on-week decline was 29.6% (a total of just 246,901 units).
Physical albums last week represented 16.3% of the total – a drop of four percentage points on the prior week. That’s a proportion that recalls the first lockdown period, when physical albums threatened to go below double figures as a share of overall album sales.
Taylor Swift’s No.1 album Evermore sold 7,330 units (including 1,849 physical copies) in the past week, just 13 copies more than the low of 7,317 set by Dua Lipa with Future Nostalgia in May last year. Both albums had previously reached No.1 with far stronger sales.
Physical sales accounted for 30.6% of the albums market in the equivalent chart week a year ago. The year-on-year decline in physical artist albums is 57.1%.
Retailers have been through this before and are probably better placed in this lockdown to face the challenges
The Entertainment Retailers Association has reported on the streaming surge in lockdown. Vinyl sales were also up in 2020 - but CDs slumped by 28% year-on-year in value terms.
ERA has reiterated its call for business rates support for retailers, support for owner-managed businesses and a 0% VAT rate as a cultural good. The trade body also wants to ensure ease of exports and imports and parcel-sending within the EU post-Brexit.
ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “Retailers have been through this before and are probably better placed in this lockdown to face the challenges. Many having already ensured their online businesses can operate smoothly and built up stronger communications with their customer base.”