U.S. digital sales appear to be holding up after gift cards ran out early in the month. Boosted mainly by strong digital album sales, track equivalent album (TEA) sales are up 14% over the same period in 2012, acording to Nielsen SoundScan.
Track sales were up 5.4% the first week of the year but were up only 0.9% the following week. It appears gift card balances had run out by the third week as sales were down 0.9% over the same week in 2012. But music buyers came back last week. Sales were up 2.7%, bringing the four-week sales increase to 3.3%.
Digital albums charted a different course. After a whopping 25.6% year-over-year increase in the first week, digital albums fell into a more predictable routine with gains of 12.2%, 15.5% and 10.1% in the following three weeks. Digital album sales are up 19.3% in the first four weeks of the year. Take out the big first week and they're up 12.6% -- less than two percentage points below the 14.2% gain digital albums posted in all of 2012.