In case you weren’t aware of vinyl’s late resurgence, the popularity of collecting black slabs of wax is back and being sold best at none other than the peddlers of commodifiable hipsterdom, Urban Outfitters. Yes, it’s true; and as Consequence of Sound puts it, “the place that sells you
ironic offensive sweatshirts and this inflatable beer pong hat also sells more vinyl LPs than Amazon, Insound, or any retail record shop.”
Now, that’s not to say Urban Outfitters is grossly outselling your down-the-block record shop. A recent report by Forbes gives claim that “independent record stores were collectively responsible for 64% of all vinyl sales in the US.” Last year was the biggest year for record sales since 1991 as 6.1 million wax pressings made their way to American households. That said, the figures for 2014 are on track to set the bar even higher.
Figures aside, though, how is it that Urban Outfitters has managed to outsell their competition? Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer, attributes it to their aberrant inventory model. Instead of having regular inventory stock, they rent out their record shelves to over 100 different vendors. Fact Magazine reveals the “retailer provides stores with an online list of inventory which they can then stock on consignment.” It’s a process that likely isn’t practiced anywhere else.
Target and Whole Foods have been the most recent entries into the vinyl selling business, but with their customer interest being of little avail. To Hollinger, there’s a strong identifier behind their success over sites like Amazon or Insound, that being: “Music is very, very important to the Urban customer.” Of course, those being the very same customers who grew up with Spotify, Pandora and Napster.
UPDATE: Despite making their claim of superiority, Urban Outfitters actually does not sell more vinyl records than every other vendor in the world. Amazon actually holds that crown.
With Billboard in speculation of this earlier news bite, they did a deeper analysis to find these results:
“A Billboard analysis shows that Amazon is the largest seller of vinyl in the U.S., with about 12.3% market share, followed by Urban Outfitters with 8.1% market share. Rounding out the top five retail accounts selling vinyl, the next-largest is Hastings Entertainment with 2.8% of the market; Hot Topic with 2.4%; and Trans World Entertainment with 2.2%. Accounts like Audiophile, Acoustic Sounds and Newbury Comics each have market shares between 1.5% and 2%.”