With new regulations requiring social distancing and isolation to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, record stores have been forced to close their doors for the time being, as non-essential businesses feel the impact of the global pandemic. That impact is now more evident than ever, as weekly album sales in the United States have reached a record weekly low, according to Nielsen Music.
Nielsen/MRC Data shows that overall album sales dropped 29%, to 1.52 million, in the week ending on March 19th. Since 1991, Nielsen Music has been tracking weekly album sales, and the U.S. has never seen album sales at a lower point. This data includes not only sales of physical albums (CD, vinyl, etc.), but digital album sales as well.
With streaming taking over as the main format of music consumption, it's no surprise that album sales would reach a low point, especially amid a global health crisis. Furthermore, with so many workers now unemployed in the States, leisure spending has certainly taken a decline, impacting the music industry and beyond.
Though vinyl album sales are actually trending upward, the majority of music fans have shifted toward digital streaming formats. This trend has been evident for quite some time, with album sales reaching a previous low in July 2019.
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There's no telling if the downward trend will continue, but with self-quarantining and the temporary loss of some avenues for purchasing albums, it's likely that streaming will retain the limelight in the world of music.