Limited version of number one selling vinyl album not available in high street shops

Funnily enough this was not the headline in the media as ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association) announced their analysis of the Official Chart Company’s figures for the first six months of the year. With Radiohead at number one with 20,771 sales and Elbow (only available directly from the record company) at 5 it’s not good news for shops. While the 20K+ figure looks good the figures I assume drop off dramatically as the Elbow vinyl was I’m informed limited to 3K and not as yet sold out. 

With one off Record Store Day figures also boosting the numbers substantially it would be interesting to see what the average sales are in a “normal” week in independent shops. These figures of course come from the same people who analysed Millward Brown’s figures for last year and announced there was an increase in the number of independent record shops. A closer inspection revealed “new” shops that had opened in the 80s but had only just “appeared on their radar”, a failure to notice Pure Groove the legendary London record store had closed and most incredibly the inclusion of 13 Alworths shops resurrected from the ashes of Woolworths but “independently” owned.

Be honest when the BBC reported in April 2011 that Last year, the UK had just 269 independent UK record shops, a figure that has now risen to 281 you weren’t thinking the entire increase was made up of Alworths shops were you ?. Having just googled Alworths to  make sure I had spelt it correctly I have just discovered it went into administration in March 2011 and was bought by Poundstretcher in May. I certainly don’t remember seeing any headlines about so many “independent record shops” closing in one go. 

Interestingly, the average price of a vinyl LP is now £16.30 compared with £7.82 for CD albums and £6.80 for digital albums. Surely this is distorted by the cost of the limited Radiohead vinyl and the various vinyl box sets that will be included. The average price of regular vinyl is certainly less than the £16.30 quoted which has to be a good thing. 

Lies, damned lies and statistics – So to summarise. All those “new” indie stores weren’t exactly what you might expect and in the case of Alworths have already closed. Radiohead’s support for independent shops is patchy at best giving them limited remix twelve inches which we would all have to agree is a good thing but keeping the limited version of the album for themselves. This is a “good news” story for somebody I’m sure but certainly not for independent high street record shops who are thought by some to be at the forefront of the vinyl revival.

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