Vinyl revival: Manchester record stores rejoice as album sales hit 18-year high

Manchester record stores are rejoicing as vinyl album sales have surpassed one million units for the first time this century.

The British Phonographic Industry announced an 18-year high in record sales earlier this week and predicted that this figure will reach 1.2million by Christmas.

Many were surprised by the resurgence in an industry now considered to be dominated by digital downloads, but co-manager of Oldham Street’s Piccadilly Records, Philippa Jarman, said she wasn’t shocked by the figures.

She told MM: “It’s really good news, but it’s not necessarily a surprise, because we’ve seen sales going up over the past five years or so.

“From pop albums being pressed on vinyl to really obscure seven-inch’s, there’s just so much coming out now, it’s really good to see.”

UK album sales across all formats have fallen from 128,900,000 in 2009 to 94,000 in 2013.

But though vinyl accounts for only a miniscule proportion of this figure – just 1% in 2013 and 2% so far this year – sales have increased fivefold since 2009.

“It’s what we’ve always been about, selling music in the physical format,” said Philippa, “and at the moment vinyl’s having its thing, isn’t it? People looking to buy it come to us because we’ve got it.

“It’s still a niche interest though. I just can’t see people going, ‘Ooh, we’re all going to buy vinyl now’.”

Artic Monkey’s fifth album AM, which was released in 2013, has been the best-selling vinyl album to date this year, while this week’s best-seller is David Bowie’s Nothing Has Changed.

The week in which BPI announced vinyl sales reaching the milestone, Pink Floyd’s first album in twenty years, The Endless River sold 6,000 copies in the first week of its release, the highest first-week sales of any vinyl LP released since 1997.

Official Charts Chief Executive, Martin Talbot, said: “In scoring the biggest opening week for a vinyl album this millennium, Pink Floyd’s The Endless River illustrates the British public’s renewed love for this format, which is on course to become a £20million business this year – an incredible turnaround from barely £3million just five years ago.

“This resurgence also underlines music fans’ continuing fascination with the album.”

Kingbee Records on Wilbraham Road has been open for business for 27 years and during this time owner Les Hare has seen many trends come and go in how people approach buying music.

He attributes the store’s longevity to a ‘hard core’ of customers who remained faithful during supposedly ‘bad times’ for vinyl lovers, and identified two new breeds of record collectors.

“There’s the middle-aged people who have gone back to vinyl as a preference to CDs and downloads,” said Les.

“And there are people in their twenties who are discovering vinyl for the first time. They probably never really bought that many CDs. They just went straight to downloads, realised they didn’t have anything to show for it, so they started buying vinyl.”

The figures released by the BPI reveal a level of vinyl consumption last seen at the peak of the Britpop era in 1996 when 1,083,206 records were sold.

Manchester’s favourite sons Oasis released their seminal (What’s The Story) Morning Glory in 1995 and this year’s re-issue sits at tenth in this week’s Official Vinyl Albums Chart.

Image courtesy of Michele, with thanks.


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