Chart Beat

Vinyl Album Sales Hit Historic High in U.S. After Black Friday 2020

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A man looks at vinyl records in Paris, on February 18, 2020.

Record Store Day Black Friday festivities help vinyl album sales to best week ever in Nielsen Music/MRC Data era (1991-present).

Shopping and promotions on Black Friday (Nov. 27) helped push vinyl album sales to a historic high in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

In the week of Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 1.253 million vinyl albums were sold (up 56%) -- the largest sales week for the format since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began electronically tracking music sales in 1991. It’s only the second time that weekly vinyl album sales surpassed 1 million in the Nielsen Music/MRC Data era. The last time it happened was just under a year ago, when 1.243 million were sold in the week ending Dec. 26, 2019.

Bolstering the robust sales week was Record Store Day Black Friday festivities at independent record stores, as indie physical store sales accounted for 542,000 vinyl LPs sold in the week ending Dec. 3 (up 135%). That’s the second-largest week ever for indie store vinyl album sales -- runner-up only to Record Store Day 2019’s week (673,000; week ending April 11, 2019). Record Store Day Black Friday traditionally sees the release of an array of limited-edition and exclusive vinyl albums, which assist in driving big sales numbers.

Also helping sales in the week ending Dec. 3: continued promotions and visibility of vinyl LPs at mass merchants like Walmart and Target, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others.

The top-selling vinyl album in the week ending Dec. 3 was Harry StylesFine Line, with 15,000 copies sold (up 12%); it rises 2-1 on the latest Vinyl Albums chart (dated Dec. 12). Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack to the A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special was the No. 2 vinyl seller of the week (rising 5-2 with 11,000; up 37%) while Queen’s Greatest Hits was the No. 3 biggest-selling LP of the week (up 4-3 with just under 11,000; up 26%). Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (6-4 with 10,000; up 70%) and Taylor Swift’s Folklore (1-5 with just under 10,000; down 36%) round out the top five.

Phish’s latest studio album, Sigma Oasis, debuts at No. 6 on the Vinyl Albums chart with 9,000 copies sold, following its vinyl release on Nov. 27. (The set was released in April on digital download and streaming services.) The BeatlesAbbey Road shifts 8-7 on the Vinyl Albums chart with nearly 9,000 in sales (up 71%).

Closing out the top 10 on the latest Vinyl Albums chart are a trio of albums that garnered special releases for Record Store Day Black Friday.

Alice In ChainsSap EP was released as a stand-alone vinyl set for the first time on Nov. 27, and arrives at No. 8 with 8,500 in sales (effectively selling out its entire production run). The five-song set was originally released as a CD in 1992.

U2’s 1980 album Boy bows at No. 9 on Vinyl Albums with a little over 8,000 sold, after the set’s release on white vinyl for its 40th anniversary. My Chemical Romance’s Life on the Murder Scene debuts at No. 10 with 8,000 sold after its first pressing on vinyl. The 2006 album compiled live tracks, demo recordings and a then-previously unreleased tune, and was originally released as a CD/DVD set.