Sales of vinyl have enjoyed a massive revival over the past decade – up by a remarkable 1,472 per cent since 2007. However, new figures from record labels’ association the BPI based on Official Charts data suggest that demand for LPs now enjoys a particular boost in the run up to Christmas as more consumers turn to the format for their music gift purchasing.
This trend has become more pronounced over the past two to three years, encouraging the BPI to predict that over 1 million LPs will be sold in the nation’s high street stores and online this December. This would see vinyl sales rise by over a quarter (26.1%) on the equivalent 4-week period a year ago and would be the highest December volume since modern-day records began in 1994 – and most likely reaching back to the early Nineties. Such an amount would contribute to a likely annual total of around 4 million vinyl LP sales which the BPI is estimating for the whole of 20171.
Just over a quarter of vinyl purchases now typically fall in December (25.8%2) and, to further underline the format’s appeal as a Christmas gift item, in just the final week before Christmas last year an impressive 213,000 LPs were snapped up – equivalent to 1 in 15 of all the LPs sold in 2016. This pattern is reinforced by the fact that, as recently as 2013, vinyl accounted for as little as 0.6 per cent of overall music consumption in December (including CDs, downloads & streams), but by 2016 its proportion had risen to 4 per cent. This contrasts with 2.4 per cent for the rest of the year. This December the figure is set to rise above 5 per cent.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “More and more of us have been rediscovering the joys of vinyl as artists and labels release more of their new titles and classic albums in the format. The aesthetic appeal of vinyl albums also make them a highly desirable Christmas gift item that friends and family will love to receive. Vinyl is aspirational, collectible and has a high perceived value despite being generally affordable, and this December we’re expecting more than 1 million LPs to be purchased.”
A further indication of vinyl’s growing appeal as a gift item is perhaps provided by the fact the best-selling LP of recent years has tended to mirror the best-selling album title overall. Typically vinyl sales are dominated by heritage rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Oasis and Radiohead, but in 2015 Adele’s 25 was not only the best-selling album title overall, it also topped the year’s Official Vinyl Chart. In 2017 it’s quite possible that Ed Sheeran’s Divide will do the same. Last year Amy Winehouse’s classic Back to Black was the biggest-selling vinyl title in December and the second-highest seller for the year overall – suggesting that more traditional patterns of vinyl purchasing are now being challenged, in part prompted by gifting.
Vinyl’s growing allure among gift purchasers lies, in part, in its deluxe packaging and limited edition record label releases, which help to enhance its exclusivity and underpin its appeal to collectors young and old.
Phil Barton, Owner of leading independent store in London’s Berwick Street, Sister Ray, said: “Vinyl makes a great gift, especially as it’s perceived as a premium purchase. Not only does the recipient get a great present but the buyer knows their gift will be appreciated and won't be forgotten by Boxing Day. We see a lot of customers intent on buying "the right gift" – buying vinyl means everyone wins.
“As a wide-ranging stockist, we know which titles sell well but at Christmas more expensive, rare items fly out of the door. Demand for top-end vinyl continues to rise and we see no slow-down in people willing to pay a premium for such scarce and collectible items that are also likely to appreciate in value.”
Another key factor is that music retailers, such as HMV and Fopp, are dedicating much more of their floor-space to vinyl whilst also featuring it more prominently in their Christmas campaigns. Supermarkets are also investing in the format, with both Sainsbury’s and Tesco launching their own ranges in recent years. Festive sales of vinyl are also being boosted by a massive surge in demand for record players – last year HMV reported that they were selling as many as one a minute in the final week before Christmas. See data below.
John Hirst, hmv Music Manager, said: "2017 is already set to be our biggest year on vinyl since the late 80s and Q4 gifting will be a massive part of that. In addition to the ever-expanding range of LPs we stock in our stores, the top 100 titles will be racked prominently in the gifting areas at the front of all hmv stores throughout December, putting vinyl in front of over 15 million hmv customers across the key gifting period."
Vinyl is popular with artists, with many enthusiastically releasing LPs alongside other formats. Their record labels have invested hugely in the vinyl format, often producing it to the highest deluxe standards, including as box sets, to enhance its aesthetic appeal and collectability. Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Noel Gallagher, Sam Smith, The Beatles, Rag’n’Bone Man and George Michael are among the artists likely to enjoy best-selling vinyl LPs this Christmas alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. See Notes to Editors.
Recent research also suggests that the demographic of vinyl buyers is beginning to broaden. Kantar Worldpanel data for the 24 weeks ending 22nd October 2017 shows that nearly a quarter (22.9%) of British spend on vinyl was by purchasers aged 34 or below. This compares with just over a fifth (20.6%) of CD purchasing. The data also indicated that female fans now account for around a quarter of vinyl purchasing (25.4%). Such figures challenge the long-held perception that vinyl is the preserve of ‘baby-boomer’ males.
The Kantar data additionally reports that almost a quarter of those who expressed an intention to purchase a record turntable in the run up to Christmas are aged under 35 and almost half (46%) are female – again reinforcing the notion that vinyl is opening up to a less traditional audience.
Best-selling Artist/Album on Vinyl LP for December (2012 – 2016)
2012 Paul Weller Dragonfly Island Records
2013 Arctic Monkeys AM Domino Recordings
2014 Pink Floyd The Endless River Rhino/Warner Music
2015 Adele 25 XL Recordings
2016 Amy Winehouse Back to Black Island Records
Likely best-selling Vinyl LPs December 2017 (Alphabetic order)
Amy Winehouse / Back to Black
The Beatles / Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Ed Sheeran / Divide
Elton John / Diamonds
George Michael / Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1
Liam Gallagher / As You Were
Original Soundtrack / Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2
Radiohead / Ok Computer
Rag’n’Bone Man / Human
REM / Automatic For The People
Sam Smith / The Thrill Of It All
The Smiths / The Queen Is Dead
U2 / Songs Of Experience