Can the end-of-year sales myth survive this season?


ON THE RECORD:WARNING: this is a piece that mentions the C word. Readers of a sensitive disposition might want to turn to the film reviews now. Yes, Christmas is coming.

For the record industry, Christmas is the most important season of the year. It’s why you get so many major releases jostling for shelf-space and coverage in the next few weeks.

Acts such as Two Door Cinema Club, Mumford & Sons, The Killers, The Script, The xx and many more have cued their new albums up for release in the last quarter of the year because this is when the vast bulk of punters go out and actually buy music.

It’s also make-or-break time for the retail sector. Over a few short weeks in December, record shops will do more business than they have done all year.

The shops won’t want to think just yet about what might happen in January or whether they will still be standing come February or whether HMV will still be on the High Street by March.

What’s remarkable is that there’s still an industry-wide myth about end-of-year sales. All involved know that sales are slumping like never before ­– it’s no longer just in Ireland that you can score a chart hit with an unfeasibly low tally of sales – yet the labels still push all their big releases into this end-of-year cluster.

It stands to reason that a big bunch of releases at the same time will not result in a rising tide for all those acts. It also stands to reason that a sales slump often occurs when there’s nothing to buy.

As the UK-based Entertainment Retailers Association noted this week, the first half of this year had one of the weakest release schedules retailers can remember in both music and video games.

If that trend continues, more shops will go out of business and that Christmas rush may become a thing of the past.

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