The number of brick and mortar stores selling music in the United Kingdom has risen to a record high, despite the waning popularity of physical product. 

New figures published by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) indicate that there were 10,391 outlets selling vinyl and CDs in the UK in 2014, up 20% from 8,633 in 2013.

According to ERA CEO Kim Bayley, this increase can be attributed to supermarket and convenience stores such as Wilko and Matalan carrying a small number of musical titles in physical formats.

“Physical outlets seem to have the edge when it comes to impulse and gift purchases. You cannot gift-wrap a download or stream,” said Bayley. According to the ERA boss, the numbers are “an extraordinary result which means that U.K. consumers have a greater choice of outlets from which to buy music, video and games than ever before.”

This increase in choice of music retailers, however, has not translated into higher physical sales. In 2014, physical album sales totalled £514 million ($794 million), a 5% decline on the previous year’s total of £540 million ($835 million), according to the ERA 2015 Yearbook.

The sale of digital albums also decreased, dropping to £199 million ($308 million), down from £233 million ($360 million) in 2013 (a 14.4% drop).

Streaming, on the other hand, experienced a significant increase. In the same time period, subscription streaming retail sales climbed 65%, from £106 million ($247 million) to £175 million ($271 million), according to BPI figures.

Whilst physical sales may be suffering overall, there has been a notable increase in the sale of vinyl records. Last year, vinyl sales in the UK cracked the one million mark for the first time since 1996. [via Billboard]



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