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UK independent record store numbers at highest for a decade

“Indies have found their niche and they are here to stay,” said the boss of the ERA.

By Will Richards

A vinyl record on a player
(Photo: Pexels).

The number of independent record stores in the UK has hit a ten-year high, according to new statistics from the Entertainment and Retail Association.

As laid out in the newly-published ERA 2024 Yearbook, 461 independent record shops now exist in the UK, 122 more than were in business in 2014.

Despite this, the overall number of shops selling physical music, including supermarket chains, has dropped drastically from 10,391 to just 2,486.Part of the boom in independent record stores comes from the continued revival of the vinyl format, with 6.5million records sold in 2023, the 16th year of growth in a row. Sales of vinyl rose by nearly 15 percent year-on-year for the first nine months of 2023.

Discussing the findings, ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “Despite largely being run by owner-managers, indies have seen off competition from some of the largest and best-funded companies in the land.

“Indies have found their niche and they are here to stay. It shows that, despite the overwhelming success of music streaming, many music fans remain committed to the high street physical music buying experience.”

Press On Vinyl building
A new vinyl pressing plant has opened in Middlesborough (pic: @pressonvinyl Twitter).

The live music sector, meanwhile, has hit further struggles this year. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has painted a grim picture of the future of grassroots venues, revealing that 31 per cent of nightclubs in the UK have been forced to close since the pandemic.

Bath institution Moles also recently shut its doors after 45 years due to struggles related to the cost of living crisis, while London’s Bush Hall have this week launched a crowdfunder campaign to try and secure their future as a live music venue.