clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Urban Outfitters is now the largest vinyl retailer in the world

CIRCA 1960s: Teen girl with vinyl records and record player, sitting on floor.
CIRCA 1960s: Teen girl with vinyl records and record player, sitting on floor.
H. Armstrong Roberts/Retrofile/Getty Images

The largest seller of vinyl albums is now Urban Outfitters, a hipster mecca that sells high-waisted shorts and the occasional offensive sweatshirt. Urban Outfitters sits firmly in the young and hip camp, so this probably means we can definitively declare that vinyl is cool again.

On a call with industry analysts this week, Urban Outfitter's Chief Administrative Officer Calvin Hollinger announced that the company is the biggest seller of vinyl records on planet Earth saying, ""Music is very, very important to the Urban customer. ... In fact, we are the world's number one vinyl seller."

This is an incredible leap for the store. In 2012, independent record stores were still responsible for 64 percent of vinyl sales, according to Forbes. But Urban Outfitters exploited this niche in the market — and at just the right time. While album sales across the country have been in rapid decline, vinyl is experiencing a revival.

vinyl sales chart 2

Sales of vinyl skyrocketed in 2013 with the release of Jack White's new album, Lazaretto, which quickly became the highest selling vinyl album since Pearl Jam's Vitalogy in 1994. According to Statista, in 2013, vinyl sales jumped 32 percent.

So just who's driving this resurgence? Could it be the work of the teens? When Urban Outfitters saw a drop in revenue in March, Chief Executive Officer Dick Hayne told Buzzfeed that the Urban Outfitters consumer was dipping from the 24-28 age demographic into the 14-18 demographic, and that the company was concerned about this.

So maybe it is the teens who are responsible for vinyl's unexpected revival. Vinyl records may not sound better than digital music, but that doesn't matter to these kids today. They're all about being hip and cool.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.