Fact Check: Is Best Buy Really Getting Rid of CDs?

Best Buy has not removed CDs from their stores, despite rumors that surfaced last week. According to Best Buy management, the big retailer has decided to keep CDs in their retail locations but reduce the inventory and devote less shelf space to them. While CDs are likely to disappear at some point in the future, apparently a core buyer group still exists.

“The way people buy and listen to music has dramatically changed and, as a result, we are reducing the amount of space devoted to CDs in our stores,” Best Buy said in a statement. “However, we will still offer select CDs, vinyl, and digital music options at all stores.”

Meanwhile, Best Buy is also stocking up on vinyl, not to mention record players. That’s the result of a decade-plus resurgence in the format, with lower- and mid-priced turntables also surging.

All of which has prognosticators wondering about the retro appeal of CDs. Most consumers have touched, played, and experienced CDs in their lives, and attribute little value to the obsolete format. But younger generations often pine for the past, and could eventually find nostalgic appeal in their grandparents’ format of choice.

+ Vinyl + CD Sales Were Bigger Than Music Download Sales In 2017

Despite the nostalgic appeal of CDs, the reality is that most music consumers have moved on to digital formats such as streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. In fact, vinyl and CD sales were bigger than music download sales in 2017. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), U.S. sales of compact discs stood at $1.1 billion in 2017, which is more than 12% of all recorded sales in the U.S.

Perhaps the most endangered species isn’t the CD, but the paid download. Recode recently reported that iTunes download sales decreased 24% in 2017. And sources to Digital Music News have pointed to a complete shutdown of iTunes music downloads in 2019.

Despite these trends, Best Buy is not giving up on physical music formats altogether. The retailer is betting that there will always be a market for vinyl, which has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. Best Buy is also expanding its selection of record players, which have become increasingly affordable.

While Best Buy’s decision to keep CDs in their stores may seem surprising, it’s also reflective of a broader trend in the music industry. As streaming services have become more popular, physical music sales have declined. However, there are still a significant number of consumers who prefer to own physical copies of their favorite albums, and Best Buy is catering to those customers.

At the same time, Best Buy is also adapting to the changing music landscape by devoting more space to vinyl and record players. Although vinyl sales still account for a small percentage of overall music sales, the format has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly among younger listeners.

Overall, Best Buy’s decision to keep CDs in their stores is an acknowledgment that physical music formats are not dead yet. While streaming services have become the dominant way that people listen to music, there are still plenty of consumers who prefer to own physical copies of their favorite albums. And as long as that market exists, retailers like Best Buy will continue to sell CDs and other physical formats alongside digital ones.

2 Responses

  1. Paul Lanning

    It’s hard to imagine how BB could shrink the CD dept any further than they already have. Maybe just sell the Top 10?

  2. Anon

    I am a Best Buy employee. As I am commenting on Best Buy, I am required to mention it. Best Buy is slowly shrinking it’s CD department until there is nothing. Why? Because CDs are going the way of the dodo. Many other stores are doing this same thing. At my branch, we have a bin that contains the rest of our stock. Just a single bargain bin, nothing Inc. the back.
    This, however, does not mean that one cannot purchase CDs through Best Buy. Until CDs are as obsolete as floppy disks, customers should be able to order CDs online or for in store pickup on Best Buy’s website. I wouldn’t count on any sort of replacement or GSP deals for such purchases, however.