Vinyl album sales in the U.S. surged pass the half-million mark last week, scoring the second-largest week for vinyl in 2019.
According to Nielsen Music, 544,000 vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 28 (up a big 60% compared to the previous week’s tally of 340,000). The 544,000 haul is the second-biggest week for the format this year, behind only the 827,000 sold during Record Store Day week (week ending April 18).
To compare, in 2018, during the tracking week that ended with Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22, 2018), there were 355,000 vinyl albums sold. And, in the week ending with Thanksgiving Day in 2017 (Nov. 23, 2017), there were 331,000 vinyl LPs sold.
The gain in vinyl sales in the tracking week ending Nov. 28, 2019 is largely owed to sale pricing and promotion by Target and Walmart. Starting on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28, the final day of the tracking week), all vinyl albums in Walmart stores were discounted to $15, while Target offered a key selection of vinyl LPs for just $15. Both offers were advertised in each company’s widely-read weekly circular advertisements touting in-store promotions and deals for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday (Nov. 29).
Nielsen reports that 42% of all vinyl albums sold in the week ending Nov. 28 were purchased through mass merchant stores, of which Target and Walmart are both categorized. Comparably, in the eight weeks previous, mass merchants would normally account for anywhere between 6% to 15% of a week’s overall vinyl album sales. (Traditionally, the bulk of vinyl LP sales in a week will come from online retailers such as Amazon, and independent or non-traditional record stores.)
Among the titles touted in Target’s ad: The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. As for Walmart, their ad highlighted three titles: Abbey Road, Queen’s Greatest Hits and a deluxe edition of the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 soundtrack.
Sales of vinyl albums at both Target and Walmart were also enhanced by how they also carry exclusive variants of some titles. For example, Target has a glow-in-the-dark green vinyl edition of When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? which was included in the $15 promotion.
The top five selling vinyl albums in the week ending Nov. 28 were: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (20,000; up 345% compared to the previous week’s sales), Abbey Road (19,000; up 385%), Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (16,000; up 786%), Queen’s Greatest Hits (14,000; up 563%) and Prince and The Revolution’s Purple Rain soundtrack (8,000; up 584%). For sales and charting purposes, all versions and variants of an album are generally combined together for one overall sales sum and chart position.
Both Target and Walmart’s $15 sale pricing lasted in-stores through Friday, Nov. 29, while supplies lasted. Some of the discounted LPs were still priced at $15 online at Target.com and Walmart.com by Monday (Dec. 2). In turn, we should see another big week for vinyl sales in the week ending Dec. 5, as that week will include Black Friday (Nov. 29) along with the very busy post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend, along with Cyber Monday (Dec. 2).