The imminent closure of Shax Stax of Wax in Kingston has made me wonder if the growth of vinyl over recent years is now on the wane. A few shops have closed this year, and I know at Shax the owner said a year ago that it was a real struggle to make a living.
So many shops I go to now seem to have loads of unsold new stock, second hand records that are overpriced or hard to shift, and piles of unwanted stuff bought as part of collections. HMV have rows of overpriced albums and I’m not sure many people are ever going to be buying them.
The slow demise of vinyl DJing also means you can probably count the number of dance music specialist shops on two hands. And loads of the old fellas who run shops they owned outright seem to be calling it a day or dying off. The last record fair I went to had almost nobody there under the age of 45 and no women at all.
We’re also about to enter a time when the people who might normally be selling their collections of records don’t have a record collection to sell because they only ever bought CDs.
I wonder if the whole vinyl revival thing may turn out to be a last hurrah for many record shops.
I think consumer economic situation also has a lot to do with it as vinyl is an expensive habit. Recent-ish conversation with Stuart/Chuggy saying he’d seen a big drop off in sales of vinyl across the whole Emotional labels and people were buying a single digital track rather than the record.
It can’t be a good environment for a physical store wanting £15 + for a 12” unless it’s well established and potentially has other income streams as well.
Not bought any vinyl at all this year, just can’t afford to.
I’m in mcr city centre a lot and sometimes i’ll call into Piccadilly and occasionally Eastern Bloc, out of habit more than anything, and they’re usually not busy (compared to bitd anyway) and i’m not surprised because the prices are ridiculous imo, 12/13+ quid for a 7"
Piccadilly probably do most of their sales mail order through the website. Like many retailers I’m sure the physical shop exists as much for the brand experience as actually being the place people go to to buy their music. ie for in stores etc.
I’ve been spending more time in Phonica recently since I started my new job in September. It generally seems quite hectic but again nowhere near those days of fighting to get to the counter in a shop. Again I bet they sell more mail order.
Partly down to majors flooding the market with what can only described as overpriced novelty chud, that should never have been repressed.
Partly down to the post lockdown novelty (for those with disposable income) wearing off.
And also in part to other socio/economic factors at play.
It doesn’t help when there’s all these clueless teds hoovering up all those car boot classics en-masse with the deluded idea that it has to be worth money because “vinyl’s back”. It just plays into the false narrative.
Those records from the 50p bins that were once on the floor, are now in the racks for £5+. Tells me all I need to know.
You guys think it’s bad, try dealing with a post covid exchange rate. A $5 record just became a lot more expensive to me, even before it gets marked up to $15.
A while back in another forum someone once mentioned the big problem was labels endlessly repressing albums that could be found in the dollar bins. How many times does one need to buy a new copy of a Beatles album?
As soon as they became novelty items for the nostalgic, prices exploded and the record shop owners end up having to take part in the craziness as, for a stretch there, stocking the newest color vinyl edition of dark side of the moon helped pay rent.
Don’t even get me started on Record Store Day…
Honestly I can’t wait for everything to come down again and we can go back to being record nerds without having to deal with the urban outfitters crowd (do they even still exist?).
What’s sad is a lot of good shops will get killed off in the aftermath of retail real estate economics.
Till about 2017 I bought in bulk from the states. It just made sense. 12”s were a third of the UK price. Condition was better and postage was about $18 for the first and $2 for each additional (no import tax @ 20% either). Those days are long gone. I haven’t bought from the US in years.
What I have found is I now buy predominantly from Europe: Netherlands, Sweden, Spain ( should the item not be in the UK). Mostly 3 at a time for the value postage. Condition/grading/service/prices are mostly superb.
The time needed to go trawling through racks in the hope that some of my wants pop up simply isn’t there (and I’m sure I’m not alone).
I still get the odd half an hour gifted when we venture into a town/city. Scoping out local shops/opportunities beforehand to see if any of the shops have anything from the wants list (on their web/discogs page) and I show my support, exchange pleasantries and head out with a smile and records, hopefully before the family have noticed my absence. The beauty of modern tech.
I always make a bee-line to the crusty sans-internet shops, but I’m reaching if I think I can get an hour in them.
We live in such an accessible age, I guess the idea of spending hours in a shop talking up/down rares is unheard of to most modern record buyers. Add that to the fact that some record shops are intimidating places.
Am I surprised any shop is struggling, no. High street retail is tough. And it’s only made harder by suppliers who strong arm shops into taking all their dreck. But it is business, and business’ have to change to suit their customer. Wherever that may be.
I was in Sounds of the Universe a couple of weeks ago, a shop I’ve visited regularly for maybe the last 20+ years. They’ve now got a second hand clothes floor basically in the basement and stocked the Taylor Swift album. I still found stuff I wanted to buy, and have no problem with them doing that if it means they can survive and keep doing the comps and stock the kind of things I want to buy.
Times change, as someone said selling via bricks and mortar is really hard, especially when the product you’re selling seems to have massively inflated in the last few years.