Beatlemania Hits Retail As CD Reissues Sell Fast
The Beatles Abbey Road cover.

The much-anticipated reissues of the Beatles' catalog hit stores on Sept. 9 are doing brisk business.

According to SoundScan's Building Chart data, more than 235,000 albums were purchased in the U.S. on Wednesday (Sept. 9) and Thursday (Sept. 10). The Building Chart's panel of reporters is made up of seven merchants that SoundScan estimates represent more than 70% of all U.S. album sales: Trans World Entertainment, Best Buy, iTunes, Starbucks, Borders, Target and Anderson Merchandisers.

That 235,000 figure is a mighty impressive number, considering in the week ending Sept. 6, the band's entire catalog shifted a total of 21,000.

"Abbey Road" was the band's bestseller in those two days, shifting 32,000 copies while "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" was in second-place with 27,000. Next up were "The White Album" (22,000), "Rubber Soul" (21,000), "Help!" (16,000) and "Revolver" (15,000).

With those kinds of preliminary figures already racked up, the Beatles will easily overwhelm both Billboard's Top Comprehensive Albums and Top Pop Catalog Albums charts next week. Nielsen SoundScan's sales tracking week runs from Monday through Sunday of each week and Billboard's new album charts will be revealed next Wednesday (Sept. 16).

On the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart, it looks like the Beatles will own nine out of the top 10 titles, with only Michael Jackson's resilient "Number Ones" the lone non-Beatles set.

Chart watchers note: the two new "Beatles in Stereo" and "Beatles in Mono" boxed sets will chart on the Billboard 200, as the tally houses current and new releases (generally those 18 months old or less). Over on the Top Comprehensive Albums chart, both old and new albums mingle together. Thus, the individual album reissues of the Beatles' catalog will chart on the Top Comprehensive Albums and Top Pop Catalog Albums charts.

Record label sources predict that "Abbey Road" could end up selling as much as 100,000 copies by the close of the tracking week on Sunday night, Sept. 13. Those well-trained industry eyeballs also figure "Peppers," "White Album" and "Rubber Soul" may shift anywhere between 45,000 and 60,000.

"The Beatles in Stereo" and "The Beatles in Mono" are also selling well, considering their hefty price tags. Industry sources think "Stereo" could sell 25,000 by week's end while the "Mono" offering may do 10,000.

Collectively, chart prognosticators think the Beatles catalog of albums may sell between 500,000 and 600,000 by Sunday night.

Predicting first-week sales for the Beatles re-issues is more complicated than usual. Because the albums are being sold not just through music retailers, but also in an array stores that don't normally sell music, this throws a wrench into traditional sales projection models. In turn, all of these projections could very well grow to be bigger than expected once the sales week ends.