Holiday boom at tune retailers

Holiday business was up 8.9% for the nation’s music retailers, according to the 11th annual marketplace survey by Los Angeles-based Macey Lipman Marketing, released Thursday.

The survey has been a fairly accurate barometer of retail activity, despite its admittedly informal nature. The Lipman report synthesizes the general impressions of personnel from over 200 retailers immediately following Christmas , covering major chains, independent stores, one-stops and rackjobbers represent-ing more than 8,000 outlets across the U.S.

Because Christmas landed on Saturday, many stores did as well on the following Sunday as they did on the days preceding Christ-mas. Exceptions included the East and Midwest, where a major snowstorm and a deep freeze kept after-Christmas business down.

Company head Macey Lipman said his survey’s figures appear to be generally supported by a report issued by the Johnson Redbook Service, which follows all retail sales at department stores, discount outlets and chain retailers. The Johnson survey said seasonally adjusted sales for December rose 8.1% through Christmas Day compared to last year.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the last week of the year, with people rushing to take advantage of all the after-Christmas sales, pushes our 8.9% music retailing figure up into double digits,” Lipman said.

Overall, sales were reported up by 69% of the Lipman respondees, with 22% claiming a drop and 9% level.

The report indicates music sold well across the board, with multiple purchases and credit card transactions both up over last year. Credit card purchases were reported up as much as 18% in some locations between Thanksgiving and Christmas over the same period last year.

Although boxed set sales were off slightly from 1992, they still sold well, particularly Metallica’s “Live Sh*t: Binge and Purge,” which had a list price of $ 95.98; the Police’s “Message in a Box,” which listed for $ 64.98; and the two Led Zeppelin CD collections, which listed for $ 74.98 (4-CD set) and $ 148.98 ( 10-CD set).

Chief complaint from the retail community was the impact of mass merchants like K-mart, Target, Wal-Mart and Circuit City, which have been accused of undercutting traditional retail prices by selling frontline CDs for as low as $ 10, thus allegedly lowering the perceived value of CDs in the eyes of consumers, who in turn balk at paying $ 12 to $ 17 for the same merchandise at a music store.

The much-feared and discussed rise in theft because of the demise of the compact disc longbox failed to materialize.

A majority of the retailers reported that they are planning to implement some type of interactive system in the future.

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