Vinyl back in vogue as 18-24-year-olds lead resurgence of record sales

18 Apr 2013

It seems 18-24-year-olds in the UK are preferring vinyl records to iTunes and Spotify, if research from ICM in time for Record Store Day this Saturday is to be believed.

This resurgence of vinyl is almost entirely enabled by the UK’s independent record stores that are currently enjoying a period of measured growth after having declined in numbers from 2,200 in the 1980s to just fewer than 300 today.  

In the last month, 5pc of the research participants had bought music in vinyl format. The most surprising finding from the research was that sales of new and vintage vinyl are biggest amongst 18-24-year-olds (14pc had bought vinyl in the last month compared to 9pc of 25-34-year-olds and 5pc of 35-44-year-olds), not what you might expect from the generation that has grown up with the CD, iTunes and online downloads.

The majority of vinyl buyers are purchasing second hand, and although there are specialist websites meeting this demand, 8 out of 10 (85pc) record buyers prefer to buy their vinyl or special-edition music in their local independent record store. In fact, the research suggests that having an independent record store nearby actually influences how people buy their music. Eighty-six per cent of vinyl buyers have an independent store near where they live.

But it’s not just vinyl fans who prefer to shop in their neighbourhood independent record store – almost a third (32pc) of all respondents chose it as their preference, as did almost half (47pc) of 18-24-year-olds. Ten per cent visit their local record store on a monthly basis, with the majority (78pc) spending up to stg£15 per visit.

27pc of vinyl buyers don’t actually play their records

Those who are engaged in music generally are more likely to buy in a range of formats. Of vinyl buyers, 52pc also bought CDs, 31pc got MP3 downloads, and 36pc bought luxury editions or box sets and, perhaps most surprisingly, 19pc of vinyl buyers bought cassettes in the last month.

Twenty-seven per cent of vinyl buyers don’t play the records they own, and although some are planning to buy a turntable, others say they buy the vinyl to admire and own, and the CD version to listen to the music.

“Independent record stores are driving and fulfilling a growing demand for music on vinyl – from new limited editions to second-hand collectibles,” said Maurice Fyles, research director at ICM Research.

“With the closure of many branches of HMV, some might expect that demand for music shops and physical formats are declining – our research rejects this.

“Rather, when there is so much music available to buy or download online, people’s needs from the high-street record store have changed. Independent record stores offer a diverse, interesting and rare range of music – and that seems to be the key to their continued survival,” Fyles said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years