Music Trades Retail Report


An analysis by Paul Mc

As many of you will know, Brian Majeski edits the excellent US Music Trades magazine and we will often give you extracts and comment on their various articles that are read all around the world. They recently compiled a great overview of the trends in the Top 200 US retailers and there are many points here that should be of interest to all of us in MI……..

Some key stats

  • 2017 sales in the Top 200 US Retailers rose by 5.9% on 2016
  • This compared to +3% the year before
  • 121 of the Top 200 were up, 20 were flat and 59 were down
  • Employee count was +1.9%
  • Sales per employee were +4.3%
  • Interestingly, the level of annual sales per employee is as good (and in some cases, better) as many other retail industries!
  • “Pure“ bricks and mortar shops saw sales rise by an average of +4%
  • “Mainly” online retailers saw sales rise by +10.7%

Other trends

Some of this information came from in-depth interviews with the following retailers:

Lone Star Percussion, Cream City Music, Pitbull Audio, Zeswitz Music, Forte Piano and N-Tune Music and Sound

  • Used and vintage instruments sales are a key part of many retailers’ margin portfolio
  • The number of shops using grows and grows and many shops see it as the “start of a relationship” with a customer, rather than a one-off transaction
  • Reverb has sold over $1billion of musical merchandise since its formation only a few years ago!
  • As an example, Reverb list about 150,000 guitars on any given day compared to about 190,000 on eBay
  • Some retailers have a MAXIMUM 30 minute call-back policy to customers
  • A more selective decision is taking with place with shops as to which brands THEY want to run for the profitable good of their business
  • A focus on the 20% of customers that generate 80% of the PROFITS of the business is seen by some as the best use of shop resource

Anyway, plenty of food for thought and many thanks to Brian for letting us share just some of the data in the report!