Number of independent record shops in UK surge and hit 10-year high

Against digital dominance, the UK's indie record shops surge to a 10-year high, championed by a vinyl revival and the charm of physical music.

Independent record stores

In an era dominated by streaming giants, the UK’s independent record shops are making a notable comeback, hitting numbers not seen in the last ten years.

The digital entertainment and retail association (ERA) reveals a thriving 461 independent record stores across the nation, marking an increase of 122 stores from a decade ago.

While supermarkets and specialist chains have seen a decline, shedding around 8,000 physical outlets for music since 2014, indie shops are holding their ground. Physical music sales now make up a mere 8% of total music sales, a stark contrast to the booming business of streaming, which represents 84% of the UK’s £2.2 billion music market.

Yet, in the face of streaming’s dominance, vinyl records are experiencing a renaissance, with sales growing for the sixteenth consecutive year. Last year, vinyl enthusiasts snapped up 6.5 million records, pushing sales beyond £170 million. A significant slice of these sales, about 2.2 million records worth, went through the doors of indie stores, with classics generating £110 million of the total vinyl revenue.

READ MORE: London’s Heritage Record Stores

In this personal history of the capital’s vinyl, Billy Holmes visits the robust businesses that have been propped up and venerated by not just London’s enthusiasts but crate diggers from all over the country.

Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA, praises the resilience of independent record stores against the competition from big players. “Indies have found their niche and they are here to stay,” she asserts, underscoring the enduring appeal of physical music and the unique experience it offers to dedicated fans.

To celebrate and support these indie gems, the ERA organises Record Store Day every April, shining a spotlight on the value they add to the music industry and local communities.

In other entertainment insights from the ERA’s 2024 Yearbook, Barbie clinched the title for the most-watched film at home, while EA Sports FC 24 dominated console gaming. The Highlights by The Weeknd was crowned the biggest album of the year, with video streaming outpacing gaming and music sectors. Among streaming platforms, Netflix remains the go-to for 82% of viewers, and smartphones have become the preferred device for music, overtaking car radios.

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