Their numbers have been decimated by the digital revolution but independent record stores have reported their first sales uplift in a decade boosted by a vinyl revival.
Sales at independent stores in the UK soared 44 per cent in the first half of the year, despite the overall music retail market falling 1.5 per cent, according to the Entertainment Retailers’ Association.
Stores like Rough Trade East, which offer browsers live music and free WiFi, have helped the sector combat a collapse in CD sales fuelled by online competition from Amazon as well as the rise of download services and streaming platforms like Spotify.
The number of high-street independent record outlets has slumped from 2,000 to just 300 over the past two decades. But “indie” stores reported ringing cash-tills this year, bucking a continued decline in the albums market overall.
Considered a dead medium by the music industry a decade ago, vinyl sales have quadrupled to 12 million units between 2006 and 2012.
Enthusiasts flocked to buy The Next Day, David Bowie’s surprise return, which became the biggest-selling album of 2013 so far in independent stores.
Record Store Day, held in April, a nationwide event where collectors queue to snap up exclusive vinyl editions from big-name artists, also contributed to the 2013 increase.
While independent stores accounted for only 3.2 per cent of the total albums market over the period, they accounted for more than 50 per cent of total vinyl album sales.
Around one in seven of albums sold through indie record stores are on vinyl, while across the rest of the UK market only one in 250 albums sold is on the 12” format.
However the closure of 80 HMV stores, following the retailer’s collapse into administration, drove hard-core record-buyers to independent outlets and accounts for a large element of the 44 per cent rise.
Relaunched under new owners Hilco, who promise to keep open 140 stores, HMV plans to abandon a failed bid to break into the technology goods market and will instead focus its business on winning back music buyers by stocking an extensive catalogue of CD and vinyl once again.
Paul Quirk, Entertainment Retailers Association Chairman, said: “These first-half sales figures reveal a stunning result for indie record shops. Although the odds are stacked against them, indies have fought back.
“With Record Store Day they have created the first major new UK sales promotion for music in 20 years and as consumers re-waken to the joys of analogue, they have driven the growth of vinyl sales.”
Best-Selling Albums Through Indie Record Shops Jan-June 2013:
1. The Next Day - David Bowie
2. Tomorrow's Harvest - Boards of Canada
3. Graffiti On The Train - Stereophonics
4. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
5. Anna - Courteeners
6. Push The Sky Away - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
7. Amok - Atoms For Peace
8. Like Clockwork - Queens Of The Stone Age
9. Tape Deck Heart-Frank Turner
10. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
Source: Official Charts Company