Bricks and mortar entertainment stores surge to record high

The number of physical stores selling music, films and games has surged to a record high as non-specialist vendors such as supermarkets, beauty shops and clothing retailers stock up on entertainment products, reports The Telegraph.

There are now 14,727 bricks and mortar retailers selling music, up from 10,391 a year ago, according to the annual yearbook from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

The increase is not due to a resurgence in specialist shops such as HMV, which declined by six locations to 154, or independent retailers, which remained flat with 340 stores.

Rather, the number of supermarkets selling music jumped from 7,078 to 8,667, while retail chains such as Boots and WHSmith almost doubled from 2,814 to 5,566.

Video retailers increased by just over 40pc to 14,582 locations, while the number of games retailers expanded by a quarter to 6,609.

Several retailers including Argos, Primark, the Co-op and Urban Outfitters – which has an extensive range of vinyl records – were included in the data set for the first time this year.

“These are astonishing numbers,” said Kim Bayley, chief executive of the ERA. “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. After all, you can’t gift-wrap a download or a stream.”

Sales of physical entertainment such as CDs and DVDs have struggled to compete with digital services such as Netflix and Spotify, which allow users to access a library of online content instantly for a monthly subscription fee.

This – along with the rise in online shopping that has taken sales of CDs and DVDs to internet retailers such as Amazon – has threatened the lifespans of bricks and mortar entertainment stores.

HMV, once Britain’s biggest entertainment retailer, declared bankruptcy in 2013 before launching an ambitious international expansion plan following its rescue takeover by investment firm Hilco.

Overall, entertainment products sold in bricks and mortar stores contributed 28.2pc of the sector’s revenues in 2015, while the remaining majority was generated by sales from online providers such as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix and Spotify.

The ERA said in January that the CD enjoyed its most successful year in a decade, with sales declining by just 3.7pc to £468m in 2015.

Revenues from music downloads suffered a worse drop amid the rising popularity of streaming services, falling 13pc to £293.4m, while streaming revenues jumped by 50pc to £251m.

While vinyls have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, with sales soaring by 65pc compared to the previous year, the market remains comparatively small at just £42m.

The video market showed similar traits, with physical sales down 15pc to £1.08bn and physical rentals 28pc lower at £77m while digital revenues jumped by 30pc to £1.09bn.

The total physical entertainment market declined by 8.5pc to £2.59bn while digital sales grew by a fifth to £3.53bn.

This took the entertainment industry, including music, video and games sales, to a record high of £6.1bn, reversing years of declines to surpass the previous peak set with £6.04bn worth of sales in 2004.