It’s 2016 and sales of vinyl records just outstripped digital album sales for the first time ever. We’ll just let that sink in for a second, because the world has gone topsy turvy, or so it would seem. As NME reports, figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) indicate last week saw vinyl outperform digital downloads.

As The Vinyl Factory writes, ERA figures show that week 48 of 2016 saw £2.4m was spent on vinyl, compared to just £2.1m spent on digital album downloads. Compare this to the same time last year when just £1.2m was spent on vinyl records, whilst digital downloads managed to bring in £4.4m into the pockets of the music industry.

The ERA speculates that the surprising figures could be due to the recent Record Store Day Black Friday, consumers purchasing vinyl records as a Christmas gift, and an increasing number of retailers stocking vinyl, including the UK’s Sainsbury’s and Tesco, two of the region’s biggest supermarket chains.

However, the ERA does not account for the increasing popularity of streaming and the general downturn in digital downloads that we’ve seen in recent years. As streaming becomes more commonplace with music fans, its ubiquity has cannibalised digital record sales and last week saw The Weeknd’s new album, Starboy, break streaming records in its debut week.

With the most popular album in the world being streamed rather than purchased and gaggles of shoppers hungry for unique Christmas gift ideas, it’s not all that surprising that a format long since left for dead might actually outperform what many believed was the future of music monetisation.

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