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Physical music sales continued to decline over Christmas, though impulse buy opportunities remain

By | Published on Monday 19 February 2018


UK sales of physical music products over the Christmas period were down 5.8% year-on-year, according to the latest stats from research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

While music saw a dip, it’s the home video domain where the physical market is seeing the steepest declines, down 21% year-on-year as online video-on-demand platforms really start to take hold. In gaming, however, the appetite for plastic discs remains strong, with sales actually up year-on-year by 2.1%.

Overall, the physical home entertainment market was down 8.8% year-on-year in the quarter up until 14 Jan. Even in gaming, fewer people were buying games in a physical form, it’s just that those who continue to buy are, on average, spending slightly more. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Christmas quarter is still the big one for those selling physical discs.

Kantar’s Olivia Moore states: “Surprising friends and family with physical entertainment gifts is still a popular choice: almost 45% of spend in this market during the final quarter of the year came from customers picking up a game, video or CD to put under the tree”.

In terms of specific retailers flogging the discs, Amazon saw its market share rise by 3.3% in the most recent quarter. HMV led in video though.

In reviewing Kantar’s stats, Moore also made some observations about the impulse buy, which has traditionally provided a boost on the high street in particular, especially during the festive months, with people buying more products than they intended on entering a store. Though impulse buying is down according to Kantar’s stats, with 79% of purchases pre-planned in this period, compared to 72% in the same quarter the previous year.

Says Moore: “As shoppers are becoming more rigid in their spending habits, capitalising on a customer’s impulsive streak is becoming more difficult for retailers – but it can be done. Shoppers that had no intention of making an entertainment purchase – or were browsing for other goods – were tempted into buying a game, CD or DVD on a whim 15% of the time. This jumps to 25% of occasions in the [supermarkets]”.

Moore also reckons there remain opportunities in the impulse buy domain. “To encourage shoppers to make more impulse purchases, supermarkets and high-street retailers alike need to become savvier with their in-store layouts and guide customers from aisle to aisle”, she says. “A bit of theatre wouldn’t go amiss either – by tempting more consumers into their stores with colourful displays and attractive designs, retailers can convince customers to splash the cash on impulse”.