Vinyl album sales in the United Kingdom climbed by 55% in the first six months of 2011, according to new figures released by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
From January to June this year, 168,296 albums were sold in the vinyl format, compared to 108,307 in the same period of 2010. The best-selling vinyl album in the U.K. year to date is Radiohead's "King of Limbs" (Ticker Tape/XL Recordings), which moved over 20,000 units. Beady Eye's "Different Gear Still Speeding" (Beady Eye), the debut from ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher's new band, sold the second highest number with 2,374 units. Adele's "21" (XL Recordings) is at No. 3 with 2,317 sales.
2010 marked the fourth successive year of growth in vinyl album sales in the U.K., according to the ERA. However, as the relatively low sales figures for the No. 2 and No. 3 best-selling titles indicate, the uplift in the format's popularity is not reliant on individual titles or artists, but reflects overall growing consumer demand for vinyl.
The April 16 U.K. leg of Record Store Day was also cited by ERA as a major sales driver. Deftones' "Covers" (Warner Bros), Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" (Warner Bros) and Gorillaz's "The Fall" (Parlophone) were among the large number of vinyl album exclusives sold at this year's event.
In the U.S. vinyl is experiencing a similar revival in popularity. U.S. vinyl album sales at the mid-year point of 2011 totalled 1.88 million - a 41.2% climb on the same period of the previous year. Despite the format's growing popularity vinyl still only accounts for 1.2% of U.S. album sales year to date, however.
"Vinyl may still be a niche format, but it is growing fast," says Kim Bayley, director general of ERA, in a statement.
"Whether it is the 'warmer' sound many music fans appreciate, the large-scale artwork of a 12" sleeve or its sheer retro appeal, vinyl seems to be capturing the imagination of buyers, despite the fact it typically costs twice as much as a CD containing exactly the same music," Bayley continued. According to the ERA, the average price for a vinyl album in the United Kingdom is £16.30 ($26.62), compared to £7.82 ($12.77) for CD albums and £6.80 ($11.10) for digital albums.
"Much of the focus in the music industry has been on cutting prices, partly in response to the rise of internet piracy," continued Bayley. "The success of vinyl shows music buyers will pay a premium if we deliver them a package they really love."