Entertainment stores at ‘record high’

Man in a music shop Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Physical stores accounted for 28.2% of entertainment revenues last year

The number of "bricks and mortar" entertainment stores has reached a record high – despite rising online sales of music and film.

There are now some 14,800 shops selling CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray, with supermarkets and high-street chain sales leading to the rise.

The figures show "traditional retail still has a place", said the Entertainment Retailers Association.

The internet accounted for 71.8% of entertainment sales in 2015.

Physical stores were responsible for the remaining 28.2%.

'Astonishing numbers'

The number of stores selling music and video has more than doubled since 2009, with DVD and Blu-ray available in 14,852 stores in 2015 and CDs and vinyl in 14,727, said the ERA, which represents retailers and digital services.

Many stores sell both, said a spokeswoman.

"These are astonishing numbers," said ERA chief executive Kim Bayley.

"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."

  • 14,727 stores sold music in 2015 – up from 10,391 in 2014
  • 14,852 stores sold DVDs and Blu-ray in 2015 – up from 10,500 in 2014
  • 6,609 stores sold video games in 2015 – up from 5,272 in 2014
  • The number of supermarkets selling music and video rose from 7,078 in 2014 to 8,667 last year
  • The number of retail chains selling music and video rose from 2,814 to 5,566

She told the BBC that physical stores are now streamlining and tailoring customer offers.

"The growth of the internet has made retailers think differently," she added, with independent stores "catering to very distinct tastes" such as country music or world music.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Adele was the biggest entertainment seller of 2015

Larger retailers are driving sales by focusing on campaigns and offers, as well as impulse buys, she said, adding: "People tend to go to stores like Amazon when they know what they want – but in a shop, they might decide to pick up a film to watch with a pizza on a Saturday night."

Stores now reporting sales to the Official UK charts for the first time include Argos, Boots, Primark and Urban Outfitters.

"The addition of these outlets to the chart panel means it is difficult to make a direct year-on-year comparison, but the trend is clear – just as the internet has demonstrated that accessibility and convenience are key to selling entertainment, physical stores are demonstrating that if you put entertainment in front of people, they will buy it," added Bayley.

In January, the ERA said "surging digital revenues" led to an all time high in sales of £6.1bn last year, ending a decade of decline.

"Inevitably much of the focus has been on the investment by digital services helping the games, video and music industries develop new markets, but these latest figures on physical store numbers show bricks and mortar is also investing in extending its reach," said Bayley.

There was a 1.5% growth in video (DVD and Blu-ray) sales last year, with music up 3.5% and games up 10%, said the ERA, with the CD seeing its best year in a decade.