First, Napster and peer-to-peer music sharing were said to have murdered physical music and movie sales in cold blood. Then, iTunes and Amazon became the culprits du jour. However, a new study might exonerate any and all suspects based on evidence that shows physical music and movie stores are thriving, at least, somewhere.
That somewhere is the U.K., and that study comes from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA). According to analysis included in its annual ERA Yearbook and announced Monday (March 7), the total number of brick-and-mortar stores selling music, videos or video games in the country has reached a record high of over 14,800. ERA CEO Kim Bayley explained that, in addition to dedicated media merchants, store chains, like Primark, Urban Outfitters, Argos and Burton, have begun selling physical media — a move that has broadened the reach and availability of these once-‘obsolete’ products.
“The addition of these outlets to the chart panel means it is difficult to make a direct year-on-year comparison, but the trend is clear: Just as the Internet has demonstrated that accessibility and convenience are key to selling entertainment, physical stores are demonstrating that if you put entertainment in front of people, they will buy it,” Bayley said in a statement.
Despite the good news on the number of physical storefronts hawking CDs, DVDs and more, the brick-and-mortar world still has a ways to go before it can scrape back the revenue gains it ceded to digital platforms over the past decade. In 2015, these B&M media storefronts were responsible for just 28.2 percent of generated revenue, while Internet-based sales accounted for 71.8 percent.
While in-store music and movie sales might never regain their former market glory, Bayley is convinced that B&M sales have a place in the modern consumer’s heart.
“Conventional wisdom has always suggested that the Internet spelled the end for physical entertainment stores, but these numbers show that traditional retail still has a place, particularly for impulse purchases and gifts,” Bayley said. “After all, you can’t gift-wrap a download or a stream.”