CIMS Weekly Chart: Week Ending 1/5/18 + 2017 Year End Charts

Week Ending 1/5/2018

I have assembled the results of a poll from the majority of CIMS stores on how their December and 2017 sales went, and thought I would share them along with the CIMS 2017 bestsellers chart.

December was a mixed bag among the reporting stores, with about 50% reporting sales increases over 2017 and the other half showing slight decreases. The overall average was a gain of 2.5%, with a high of +19% and a low of -12.5%. December vinyl sales were universally up, with only a couple of stores showing decreases. The average gain was 8.4%, with a high of +22.5% and a low of -3%. CD sales for December took a predictable hit, with the average loss at -14%. The high for that category was a +4% gain, while the low was a loss of -32%.

The year-end numbers were similar in nature, with an average of +3.2% over 2016. The high mark for overall sales was +19.4%, and the low was a loss of -6%. Vinyl sales clipped along at an average of 12% up, with a high of +29% and a low of -3%. Again, CD sales declined, with an average of -6.8%, a high of +3.5% and a low of -20%.

Additional revenue for the stores during December and the rest of the year was gained by sales of apparel (tees, socks, scarves), hardware (turntables), lifestyle/gifts, books and accessories.

I also asked the store owners a couple of questions this year about what they saw as the biggest problems they are fighting that damaged their sales. I received the following: 

  1. Late arrival of products, thus missing street date.
  2. Slow order processing, especially on stock orders.
  3. Embargoed titles preventing us from proper set-up of marketing.
  4. Predatory online pricing from Amazon, labels, distributors, artist sites.
  5. Expensive vinyl titles.

I also asked what they would like to suggest to the industry to help independent retail. Here's what I heard back:

  1. Vinyl returns or credits for slow-moving inventory (No. 1 response by a large margin).
  2. Day-and-date CD, vinyl and digital. (The digital customer will buy anyway, why must it be first?)
  3. Cheaper vinyl titles. The consumer is very aware of pricing these days.
  4. Faster replenishment of stock orders; it often takes up to ten days to receive a re-stock order.
  5. Start treating vinyl like a real business and not like toy collecting, keep inventory in stock.
  6. More $9.99 or cheaper CD titles/ quit raising CD prices. Catalog still sells well if it's inexpensive.
  7. We are losing the new release business to online merchants, often with predatory pricing. Amazon, labels, artist sites or distributors are often given the advantage. Support the stores first.

I have not edited these remarks. Well, I removed the cursing...we are independent retailers, after all.

I hope this is good information for everyone. Happy New Year.


Michael Bunnell
Executive Director
Coalition of Independent Music Stores
ThinkIndie Distribution
The Record Exchange
1105 W. Idaho Street
Boise, ID 83702
208.761.3155 cell
208.343.0107 x3 office
208.322.8051 fax


CIMS Selections
Here's what the CIMS staffers are fancying this week:


Nick Campbell - ThinkIndie Warehouse Manager
Spiral Stairs- Doris and the Daggers (Nine Mile Records)

I forgot about this album in my year-end list. It was released in early 2017, and the song “Dundee Man” drifted into my Spotify Release Radar playlist. I was convinced that it was a folksy Scottish indie group for a little bit, and then I did some reading: Spiral Stairs is none other than former Pavement guitarist/vocalist Scott Kannberg and backing members of The National and Broken Social Scene. Only the second Spiral Stairs album in about eight years, it’s a lot of fun. Check it out if you like The Clean, The Cleaners from Venus, Robyn Hitchcock, The Soft Boys, and other indie rock goodness of that era.