From this weekend, the Australian Music Retailers Assn.'s members will sell new releases from Saturday instead of Sunday in a move to cash in on Christmas trading, the trade body said today (Dec. 1).

From this weekend, the Australian Music Retailers Assn.'s members will sell new releases from Saturday instead of Sunday in a move to cash in on Christmas trading, the trade body said today (Dec. 1).

Of Australia's estimated 1,000 music retailers, 700 are members of Melbourne-based AMRA, including major chains Sanity/HMV and Leading Edge and many independent stores.

Until now, retailers had held off from releasing product on Saturday to fit in with the Australian Recording Industry Assn.'s weekly charts cycle. The ARIA chart is released Sunday night, comprising data collated from the previous Sunday morning to the Saturday night.

In a statement, AMRA said it agreed "the ARIA chart is a critical sales tool" but explained that retailers lost too many sales on Saturday, their busiest trading day.

"This is the 21st century and a retailer's focus has to be on the customer, delivering a great experience and service so the customer comes back again and again," said Geoff Bonouvrie, Sydney-based chair of AMRA and owner of single-outlet Mall Music on Sydney's northern beaches. He adds that move to selling new stock from the Saturday is "just logical business sense in this day and age, where the customer is king."

Sources say music specialists have been disadvantaged in the past as department stores such as K-Tel and Woolworths sell their new releases on Saturdays.

AMRA's announcement caught ARIA unaware. ARIA's chief executive Stephen Peach emphasizes that the ARIA weekly charts will continue to use Sunday as a first day sale of a new release. "Those Saturday sales will, for all purposes, be lost sales as they will not be included in the chart the week after," he tells Billboard.biz. Major new sets slated for release in Australia this weekend include albums from Universal Music's Eminem and Sony BMG's Korn.

Peach emphasizes that date-of-release is agreed upon between retailers and individual record companies, and not with ARIA. However, he notes that ARIA and AMRA have in the past had discussions on some retailers who have broken the agreement to sell on the official date. Peach emphasizes "we could stop that from happening."