With the popularity of digital music surging, Best Buy is officially pulling the plug on music CDs, and another retail giant may soon join them. Although CDs remain a relatively popular format worldwide, sales in the U.S. dropped more than 18% last year, prompting Best Buy to drop the format entirely.
Billboard is reporting that the retailer has informed music suppliers that it will stop selling CDs and pull them from shelves on July 1. Although Best Buy used to be the top music seller in the U.S., nowadays its CD sales generate a relatively low $40 million per year.
Digital music sales overtook physical format sales in 2015, and that trend is likely to continue. Paid subscription services like Spotify and Apple Music are experiencing substantial growth, increasing by more than 60% in 2017.
Best Buy will continue to sell vinyl records in its turntables section, however, due to a commitment it made with vendors. Vinyl album sales hit a record high in 2017, accounting for 14% of all physical album sales. The best-selling vinyl LP of 2017 was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Target may soon follow Best Buy’s lead if music suppliers don’t alter their current sales arrangement. Currently, Target purchases music and videos when they’re released, with unsold product shipped back after 60 days at Target’s expense for a credit. According to Billboard, Target issued an ultimatum to both CD and DVD suppliers that it wants to move to a scan-based system — in other words, the supplier wouldn’t get paid until the discs are rung up and sold at the register.
Target’s deadline for these changes is either April or May, and music companies are on the fence about whether they’re going to go along with the arrangement or not. According to insiders, at least one of the three major music suppliers opposes the arrangement, with the other two undecided.
Target used to be a major outlet for CD sales, but recently their inventory has dwindled to fewer than 100 titles in many stores. Big releases can still pack a punch though, as they sold more than half a million copies of Taylor Swift’s 2017 Reputation album.
Music suppliers may be waiting to see what happens with Target and DVDs. It seems unlikely that the retailer would pull DVDs from their shelves, but who knows? The digital age has arrived, and some traditional stores are struggling to stay in the game.