Number of independent record shops in UK hits 10-year high

Jimmy Broklesby Jimmy Broklesby stood in front of a records shop in Frome in Somerset. There are various CDs and vinyl records, from different genre's including hip hop, reggae and soul.Jimmy Broklesby
Jimmy Broklesby said the shop he works at sells a large amount of vinyl and CD records

The number of independent record shops in the UK is at a 10-year high, according to an industry group.

The digital entertainment and retail association (ERA) said there are now 461 indie record shops in the UK – 122 more than 10 years ago.

By contrast, the number of shops physically selling music – such as supermarkets and specialist chains – fell by 8,000 compared to 2014.

It means just 8% of all music sales are now in a physical form.

The ERA’s 2024 Yearbook, containing statistics on the music, video and gaming sectors, found the UK music market was worth £2.2bn last year.

It attributed a massive proportion of this – 84% – to streaming subscriptions.

But it also found the demand for vinyl records increased for the 16th year in a row, with 6.5 million sold, taking overall sales above £170m.

It said 2.2 million of those records were sold through independent stores, and £110m of the overall sales were generated by older albums rather than new releases.

Jimmy Broklesby, 24, works at an independent music shop in Frome, Somerset, which sells vinyl and CD records.

“The sales of vinyl are pretty consistent and [have] obviously gone up for us over the few years. But in the week for us CDs are our predominant selling product,” he said.

“More of it gets released than I think people are aware of: reissues, anniversary editions, special variants, and all these kinds of things do bump up the quantity that we sell.”

He said the shop has a lot of customers who’ve been buying vinyl since the 60s, but also “a much younger crowd that are really into artists like Olivia Rodrigo and The 1975”.

Bethan Currie, 28, runs a TikTok account showing off her collection of vinyl which she said is “definitely in the hundreds”.

Bethan Currie Bethan Currie holding three vinyl records and smiling behind them.Bethan Currie
Bethan Currie said her TikTok’s have allowed her to make new friends online

“It’s not about just listening to music, it’s about the actual act of going out to find that album that you really want to find,” she said.

“There’s a really big vinyl collecting community on TikTok and it’s really lovely.

“I think it’s also a social thing, people want to show off what they’ve got and talk about music that they like on TikTok.”

CEO of the ERA, Kim Bayley said: “Despite largely being run by owner-managers, indies have seen off competition from some of the largest and best-funded companies in the land.

“Indies have found their niche and they are here to stay.

“It shows that, despite the overwhelming success of music streaming, many music fans remain committed to the high street physical music buying experience.”

Jimmy Broklesby A general view of a records shop in Frome in Somerset. There are various CDs and vinyl records, from different genre's including hip hop, reggae and soul.Jimmy Broklesby
The demand for vinyl records has grown for the sixteenth year in a row

As part of an effort to focus on independent shops, the ERA holds a Record Store Day in April each year.

Elsewhere, Barbie was the most popular film to watch at home, EA Sports FC 24 was the best-selling console game and The Highlights by The Weeknd was the biggest album of the year.

Other notable findings included:

  • Video was the largest sector of entertainment, compared to gaming and music
  • 82% of people who stream video on demand used Netflix
  • Smartphones were the most common device for listening to music, overtaking in-car radio for the first time
  • The best performing song of the year was Flowers by Miley Cyrus

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