It has been predicted that over one million vinyl LPs will be sold in the nation’s high street stores and online this December.
In line with the amazing revival of vinyl sales over the past decade, new figures from record labels’ association the BPI suggest that giving an album on vinyl as a Christmas gift is increasingly popular – with sales up an estimated 26% on the equivalent in December 2016, which is also the highest level since the early nineties.
Vinyl has become aspirational and collectible with a highly perceived value
“The aesthetic appeal of vinyl albums make them a highly desirable Christmas gift,” says BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor.
“Artists and labels release more of their new titles and classic albums in the format, and it has become aspirational and collectible with a highly perceived value – despite being generally affordable.”
In a remarkable turn-around for the format – which saw sales plummet in the nineties and noughties with the advent of CDs and downloading – vinyl sales will probably break the four million mark for 2017. This is a 30% rise on 2016, and an astonishing 1,472% rise on sales just ten years ago.
What was not so long ago seen as the domain of ‘men of a certain age’ – who would spend their afternoons ‘crate-digging’ in a rapidly decreasing number of dusty old record shops – buying vinyl now appears to be popular amongst the younger generation.
Research shows that throughout 2017, nearly a quarter of vinyl in the UK was bought by people aged 34 or below, compared with just over a fifth who bought CDs. Also debunking the traditional view of the market is the fact that female fans now account for around a quarter of vinyl purchasing.
Last year, 27,000 people worldwide earned an income selling street papers, making a total of £23.4 million.
Artists such as Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, and George Michael are likely to feature among the best-selling vinyl albums this Xmas. Music retailers such as HMV and Fopp have been dedicating more of their floor-space to vinyl, and the big supermarket chains are also investing in the format.
But why is the humble 12″ platter making such a comeback, especially at Christmas? Whilst a reaction against the ‘instant hit’ of the downloading culture may be one reason – buying and listening to vinyl takes more time and effort, and so is considered a more ‘substantial’ experience – another is the deluxe packaging and limited edition releases, which help to enhance the exclusivity and aesthetic appeal to collectors young and old.
“Vinyl makes a great gift, since it’s perceived as a premium purchase,” says Phil Barton, the owner of independent London record shop, Sister Ray. “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.
“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 scarce and collectible items that are likely to appreciate in value.”