Here’s a shift for the music industry: Urban Outfitters is now the world’s biggest seller of vinyl records.
“Music is very, very important to the Urban customer… in fact, we are the world’s number one vinyl seller,” Calvin Hollinger, the company’s chief administrative officer, said at a meeting with analysts yesterday. He explained that instead of having thousands of vinyl albums online, the company has a system in place that lets it seamlessly offer inventory from roughly 100 vendors without actually owning that inventory, a model it might use with Anthropologie’s home goods.
Vinyl records have been a rare and unusual bright spot for the music industry in recent years, as noted in the chart below, starting with the launch of Record Store Day in 2007. Sales of vinyl LPs rose to 6.1 million albums last year, the highest since at least 1991, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and sales this year are on track to beat that. Just in June, Jack White set a vinyl sales record with his album Lazaretto.
It’s notable that Urban Outfitters, a chain that’s worried it’s gotten too young for its 18- to 28-year-old customers in the past year, is such a big seller of an old technology. The people buying vinyl, it turns out, are those who grew up with the ability to download music or stream it on Pandora and Spotify. (Target and Whole Foods have also tried to get into the business.)
Urban, which was most recently in the news for offending the nation by selling what appeared to be a bloodied Kent State sweatshirt, reiterated it’s trying to “course correct” to college-aged customers after drifting into high school territory.