Business News Retail

Number of high-street stores selling entertainment products at all-time high, says ERA

By | Published on Monday 7 March 2016

Entertainment Retailers Association

The number of high street stores selling music, video and games in the UK continues to rise, the latest annual report from the Entertainment Retailers Association has confirmed this morning, with the 14,800+ shops now flogging entertainment products constituting an all-time high. And this despite all that new-fangled mail-order, downloading and streaming that people continue to insist is the future.

Though, of course, records are still being broken in this domain mainly because of the ever-increasing number of non-specialist retailers giving over some shelf-space to CDs, DVDs and games. ERA notes that Argos, Boots, Burton, Moto, Primark and Urban Outfitters are amongst the retailers now chart-returning.

In terms of music, ERA reckons that 14,727 stores are now selling CDs and/or vinyl in the UK, about a hundred less outlets than stock DVD. Though, of course, many of the non-specialists will only stock a small selection of releases for consumers to pick from.

But, says ERA boss Kim Bayley, these are nevertheless “astonishing numbers”. She adds: “Conventional wisdom has always suggested that the internet spelled the end for physical entertainment stores, but these numbers show that traditional retail still has a place, particularly for impulse purchases and gifts. After all, you can’t gift-wrap a download or a stream”.

Of course, for the recorded music industry, it is still premium streaming services that are providing the big growth revenue stream, combating slumping download income, and the continued decline in CD sales. Though, at the same time, those declining CD sales are still probably higher than many people expected they would be by 2016, both worldwide and even in the UK, where you can’t argue that CD-heavy markets like Germany and Japan are skewing the stats.

Noting this fact, Bayley adds: “It is simplistic to suggest digital is simply replacing physical. The fact is, digital is best for some purposes, physical for others. The latest figures on store numbers show that physical formats still have many years of life left in them”.

The gifting Bayley mentioned – coupled with in-car listening – may well explain why CDs are still selling pretty well in the UK market and beyond. Though we’ll look at this phenomenon – and the opportunities it possibly presents – in much more detail at The Great Escape in May.