When vinyl sales ticked back up in 2008, it was easy to look at this as an anomaly, a blip caused largely by the novelty of a new thing called Record Store Day. When the same thing happened in 2009 and 2010, critics dismissed the renewed interest in vinyl as a fad. But fads do not last 14 years.
As 2021 comes to a close, sales of vinyl records are up everywhere, even with the pandemic, delays at pressing plants, and a global shortage of polyvinyl chloride, the raw stuff from which records are made.
- Here in Canada, sales are up from 2020 by 21.2%–and 2020 was an excellent year. With a week’s worth of sales still to report, 1,073,834 new vinyl records were sold in this country. That’s about 41% of the total number of CDs sold.
- In the US, vinyl sales surpassed two million copies (2.11 million, to be exact) for the first time in a week since the industry started properly tracking physical sales in 1991. That was the sixth consecutive week that vinyl sales topped one million in the US. By dollar value (a spurious thing given that prices skyrocketed in the last year), vinyl sales for 2021 total US$467 million, up from US$207 million in 2020.
- The UK saw an increase in vinyl sales for the 14th consecutive year, with sales up by 8% over 2020. Of all the album sold in the Kingdom, 23% were on vinyl. And the biggest seller? ABBAs Voyage followed by Adele’s 30 and Rumours from Fleetwood Mac. (Retro albums were huge in the UK this year.) Total sales of new vinyl in 2021? Five million units. That’s the highest since 1990.
- Keep in mind that all these numbers are for new vinyl and don’t account for the massive market in used records.
The vinyl resurrection is a fad? Hardly.