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sufi
30-11-2009, 09:53 PM
After a third of UK music stores close in five years, study suggests gaps in market for more record shops

Postcode survey shows Inverness, Cambridge and Twickenham are towns which rock

30 November 2009: Inverness, Cambridge and Twickenham are vying with London for the title of Britain’s greatest music cities, according to the surprise results of the first-ever analysis of UK per capita music sales by postcode.

But the research into physical album sales by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) – and based on official charts data covering millions of transactions - shows a huge disparity between the best- and worst-performing areas, indicating there may be opportunities to open new record stores in towns which are currently under-served.

ERA – whose members generate over 90% of sales of music, DVDs and video games in the UK – says the clear conclusion from the data is that the more physical shopping opportunities music fans have to buy music, the more they buy.

“It’s a simple, but vital point in a year when we’ve seen the closure of Woolies and Zavvi and literally hundreds of music outlets,” said ERA Director General Kim Bayley. “Put music in front of people and they will buy it.

“These figures indicate that there may well be a number of areas where there is still scope to open new record stores. Proximity and convenience are clearly not the only factors when it comes to persuading people to buy music, but this study certainly indicates that if you make it difficult to buy music, then people will buy less.

“The lesson for the music industry is clear: maintaining as broad a possible retail distribution network could be a significant factor in boosting music sales.”

Data from chart compiler Millward Brown who provided the detailed postcode data for the research suggests 1,600 stores selling music have closed in the UK in the past five years.

Britain’s biggest music cities

The ERA survey focuses not on absolute music sales – where the biggest cities inevitably boast the biggest sales – but attempts to treat each area on a level footing by dividing total sales in each of the UK’s 123 postcode areas by its population to arrive at an “average per capita” figure.

Even so, the huge impact of tourism and out-of-town visitors on central London is apparent from per capita figures of 16.88 in the “WC” postcode area, 9.71 in “EC” and “5.71” in “W”.

The fact that two London areas – “SE” and “N” – also appear in the rankings as among the UK’s lowest music buying areas suggests Londoners from these areas may also be shopping in central London.

Outside central London the best performing postcode was Inverness. In the first three quarters of 2009 the study shows the 205,052 people living in the Inverness postcode area bought an average 1.76 albums each, compared with an average of 1.14 albums across the UK.

In contrast the 26,502 inhabitants of the remote Western Isles – also known as the Outer Hebrides – bought less than half an album, just 0.44 units per head.

While there may be good reasons for the very worst performers in terms of per capita consumption such as dispersed population – Western Isles and Llandrindod Wells or proximity to major shopping centres – Ilford and Harrow, there are other areas where the reasons are less clear:

Wigan’s 297k citizens generated album sales of just 167k whereas if they had matched the national average of 1.05 units (excluding central London), they might have been expected to generate sales of 312k;
Warrington’s 586k population generated sales of 508k rather than the 616k which might be expected;
In contrast Cambridge’s 368k population generated sales of 632k units, rather than the 386k units it would have generated had it merely reflected the national average.

The research suggests that if the bottom 25 postcode areas could be persuaded to raise their purchasing of albums to the current national average, the album market would actually have grown rather than declined 12.4% in the first three quarters of 2009.


Where are Britain’s Biggest Music Buying Areas?
Where are Britain’s Lowest Music Buying Areas?


Postcode area
Population
Per capita sales

Postcode area
Population
Per capita sales

1
London “WC”
31,350
16.88
1
Western Isles
26,502
0.44

2
London “EC”
26,832
9.71
2
Llandrindod Wells
48,300
0.46

3
London “W”
473,847
5.71
3
Harrow
421,007
0.49

4
Inverness
205,052
1.76
4
Shetland Isles
21,988
0.55

5
Cambridge
367,990
1.72
5
London “SE”
859,466
0.56

6
Twickenham
436,225
1.71
6
Wigan
297,515
0.56

7
Glasgow
1,164,839
1.62
7
Motherwell
366,001
0.58

8
Brighton
740,878
1.59
8
Bradford
520,072
0.62

9
Edinburgh
810,119
1.56
9
Wolverhampton
378,952
0.63

10
Manchester
1,026,051
1.52
10
London “N”
730,890
0.64

Analysis: Entertainment Retailers Association. Sales data for Jan-Sept 2009 courtesy of Official Charts Company, compiled by Millward Brown.
c/o http://www.eraltd.org/