The Entertainment Retailers Association has reported a positive start for music retail after stores reopened on June 15. It follows almost three months when shops were shuttered during lockdown.
As reported in the latest issue of Music Week, many indie retailers are still weighing up when to reopen. While some independents will find the current social distancing restrictions challenging, HMV and Rough Trade have reopened under the government’s Covid-19 guidelines.
“The outpouring of affection for stores is clearly apparent with customers really pleased to see shops open and enthusiastically visiting their local shops, many arriving with lists of records they wanted to buy,” said ERA CEO Kim Bayley.
“Most shops reported steady numbers throughout the day and the vast majority of shops have been very pleased with the trading in store so far. In many cases, this has exceeded their expectations for the first day's trading.”
While official figures will not be available until the end of the week, the return of stores is likely to make a sales impact on the charts. ERA said Liam Gallagher and the Manic Street Preachers are among the artists driving footfall. Gallagher increased physical sales of his MTV Unplugged live album on Monday. Manic Street Preachers’ Gold Against The Soul reissue is also benefiting from the return of physical retail.
In line with all retailers, shops are operating restrictions on customer numbers in store and queuing systems. HMV has launched a personal shopper service at the 93 stores that reopened in England and Northern Ireland.
The vast majority of shops have been very pleased with the trading in store so far
Rough Trade reopened all UK stores – including two in London and branches in Nottingham and Bristol – in a limited form on Tuesday (June 16). Trading hours are limited from 11.30am to 5.30pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Store entry will be limited to 10% of capacity.
Rough Trade has removed listening posts and any displays that could affect social distancing or create ‘pinch points’. All stores will have hand sanitiser stations, mandatory disposable gloves for browsing, perspex screens for tills and social distancing guidance, while staff will be issued with face masks, gloves and sanitiser.
“Whilst meticulously adhering to government guidance on retail practice and ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and customers, this is a much welcome opportunity for us to start getting back to what we do best, which is delivering a meaningful in-store retail experience for our customers,” said Rough Trade director Stephen Godfroy.
Physical album sales came close to going below 10% of the market in mid-April, but were back up to 17.4% last week. Although retailers have increased online sales while their doors were closed, there is now potential for a further boost to the market from the High Street.
Proper Music MD Drew Hill said: “Some shops are watching to see how those that did open this week fare, so you might see more shops opening next week or the week after. I think we're going to see a bit of a pick-up this week and another bit more of a pickup next week. It’s a steady recovery.”
“We want as many stores as possible to open as quickly as possible,” said BPI CEO Geoff Taylor. “But each individual business has to take a view on how viable that is for them and how safe they feel they can make their customers.
“The fact that HMV are reopening, and a good percentage of indie stores are reopening, is a positive start – but it is going to take a while to normalise.”
Retail can also look forward to the online-focused Love Record Stores promotion on Saturday (June 20). Music Week cover star Tim Burgess is the artist ambassador for the event.
To read the full Music Week report on retail, subscribers can click here.
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