Published Apr 23, 2015Record Store Day has become divisive in recent years, but there's no denying that the event translates into big sales for indie retailers. Billboard reports that stores enjoyed a massive spike last week thanks to Record Store Day on April 18 — although not, perhaps, quite as big as last year.
For the week ending on April 19, independent retailers sold 532,000 units, according to merchants who participated in the event and data supplied by Nielsen Music (most — if not all — of which we assume was provided by U.S. retailers). That's down 12 percent compared to the week of Record Store Day last year.
That being said, for stores that have been open for more than a year and reported to Nielsen both this year and last year, sales increased by 3 percent. For the week of Record Store Day, sales from the indie sector rose 46.7 percent compared to the week prior (which is as much a comment on the earlier week as it is Record Store Day itself).
It's interesting to note that, for all the fuss that's being made about Record Store Day and its impact on indie stores, it still accounts for a relatively modest portion of the total record industry, or at least when it comes to Nielsen numbers. The 532,000 sales from stores added up to just 21.5 percent of total physical album sales and 11.9 percent of sales overall. In other words, a lot of people spent the week downloading music from iTunes and buying CDs at Walmart.
Another surprising fact is that Record Store Day's biggest seller this year wasn't a vinyl record. Rather, it was Metallica's No Life Till Leather cassette, which sold almost 3,000 units. Some other big-selling RSD exclusives were the White Stripes' Get Behind Me Satan and Bob Dylan's The Basement Tapes. The week's biggest vinyl seller was Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell, which isn't a RSD-related release.
Not only does RSD translate in a spike for retailers, it's a time for flippers to hit up eBay.
Meanwhile, vinyl continues to boom in 2015.