Last week, Urban Outfitters’ chief administrative officer, Calvin Hollinger, dropped something of an industry-wide bombshell by revealing that the company that once offered these totes awesome boots actually sold more vinyl records than any other store. While Hollinger didn’t quote any specific numbers, he stressed that the company outsold Amazon, Insound, and any retail record shop in the last year. (For context, vinyl sales hit 6.1 million last year, with numbers on track to increase for this year.)
As it turns out, Hollinger’s claims may be more phony than the $100 distressed jeans Urban Outfitters schleps like hot cakes. Billboard has put together a survey of labels, distributors, and various wholesalers, some 80% of the total US music market, and they found a slightly different leader. With 12.3% of the market share, Amazon earns the top spot, with Urban Outfitters landing at second with an 8.1% market share. On the bright side, they still dominated the remaining competition; Hastings Entertainment came in third with a mere 2.8% market share.
According to Billboard, Amazon simply has a much larger online presence than Urban Outfitters: in all, the retail chain has about 300 locations nationwide and another 50 or so locations worldwide. Previously, Urban Outfitters’ success was attributed to the fact that they’ve set themselves up as something of an online vinyl consignment retailer. That basically means they can list vinyl albums from approximately 100 vendors without having to actually pay for the inventory themselves.
Even if Urban Outfitters isn’t the champion, it’s good news for vinyl sales all around. Vinyl shipments have increased 41% over the last year, from 4.6 million to 6.5 million units. In addition, Nielsen SoundScan had some 4.2 million LPs scanned for the week of September 21st, 2013; that same time this year, that number was over 5.9 million. Though vinyl accounted for only 0.2% of sales in 2004, it now accounts for 3.5%.
Other chains are taking notice, too. Last year, Guitar Center began selling vinyl in 266 of its stores nationwide. Even Whole Foods is getting in on the action, with plans to increase from 19 stores that sell vinyl to 100-plus stores by the end of November. Reports have also begun to circulate that Barnes & Noble is eyeing the vinyl option. As one wholesale executive told Billboard, “The chains are realizing that they don’t want to miss out on a product category that is growing thirty to forty percent a year. Even non-traditional retailers that didn’t want to touch any music up until now are saying this is something we should investigate.”
Check out the full breakdown of the top 10 below. Then, we’ve shared a little music for the folks at Urban Outfitters to keep their spirits high.
Vinyl Sales By Retailer:
Amazon – 12.3%
Urban Outfitters – 8.1%
Hastings Entertainment – 2.8%
Hot Topic – 2.4%
Trans World Entertainment – 2.2%
Audiophile, Acoustic Sounds, Newbury Comics – Between 1.5 and 2%