UK: vinyl in the basket to calculate the cost of living

UK: vinyl in the basket to calculate the cost of living

After 32 years, vinyl records have once again been added to the virtual shopping cart used by the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) to track prices and calculate the cost of living and inflation rate. The ONS basket of goods and services contains over 700 items used to calculate monthly inflation data. Vinyl was last included in the ONS's 'basket of goods and services' in 1992.

Speaking about the return of vinyl, the ONS's Matt Corder said: “The basket often reflects the adoption of new technologies, but the return of vinyl records shows how the cultural revival can influence our spending.”

Although four-fifths of music is now consumed via streaming, the inclusion of vinyl records in the ONS basket is, as Q reports, just the latest example of a resurgence of this format in recent decades.

Annual sales of vinyl LPs in the UK have been on the rise for 16 years and are now at the highest level since 1990. According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), sales increased by 11.7% in 2023 to just under of 6 million units.

Patrizia Leighton, director of HMV, the UK's largest vinyl retailer, which has just reopened its original store on London's Oxford Street after a four-year hiatus, told Q: “We've seen all sorts of people buying vinyl records, including the youngest ones. Music has always been a way to find your community, a way to explore and express identity. We've all gone through that teenage and twenties phase of life where your people were the ones who shared your musical tastes. Today that thing is as alive and well as it has been since the invention of the teenager.”

BPI chief executive Jo Twist also commented. “Led by vinyl, the resurgence of physical product underlines the resilience of the UK music market at a time when streaming consumption continues to reach record levels. It's giving people more choice than ever in how to enjoy their favorite music.”

The latest boost for vinyl comes with news that the number of independent record shops in the UK is now higher than at any time in the last decade, with 461 independent shops across the country, 122 more than 10 years ago.

Drew Hill, deputy CEO of Utopia Music, which oversees the UK's largest physical music distributors, said: “Record shops offer a unique space for music lovers to listen, collect and interact with their favorite artists in a way that taps into the fan universe and coexists alongside digital streaming. It remains essential to continue to provide an unbeatable service to record retailers to maximize their potential and ensure their bright future.”