19th annual Profile of the American Music Dealer
As more than one supplier remarked at the past winter NAMM show, “Flat is the new up” and prophetically this appears to be the standard for MMR’s 19th annual Profile of The American Music Dealer which, by our account, recorded an almost dead-even tally of store fronts for the past two years. While there was definite movement on a state-by state basis, with net increases in such states as Florida, Kansas, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, there were, as expected, almost an equal number of states showing declines with Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Colorado among the most hard hit.
Our chain store report (December 2008) registered a net gain of ten units, 70 chains of three or more stores with a total of 791 storefronts. Unlike past years there was no “large” chain closing, however several veteran dealers departed the scene including Gadsby Music (73 years); Medley Music (54 years) and Forbes Piano (120 years) New units opened from a variety of sources including a few Internet sites moving into retail; newcomers and single store operators expanding to a second unit. We may have also uncovered a few existing dealers that were counted for the first time as a result of a detailed search of “dealer locator” sites on the Internet and a review of new NAMM retail members.
Within the “Profile” we look backward to our initial report in 1991 with a tally of 9,371 units. During the intervening years the industry has recorded a net loss of 1,750 store fronts. The majority of the closings were during the early 1990s, with a loss of more than 1200 units from ’91 through 1994. During the mid ’90s there was a resurgence of store openings paced by the emergence of the short lived MARS operation along with spurts from Guitar Center and Sam Ash.
In surveying the product categories sold by the 7,981 storefronts we found the largest increase in dealers adding print music to their line-up. The largest decreases were in the categories of fretted instruments and percussion and keyboard held steady most likely due to the addition of digital product as dealers in general broadened their selections.
7981 Stores: What Do They Sell?
As per previous years, fretted instruments remain the dominant product category sold by more than 58 percent of outlets. However it should be noted that this reflects a decrease of 171 outlets for the past twelve months. There was also a general decline of percussion within 141 units and a decrease in the sound reinforcement category. After a decrease of 152 units for print music in 2008, the category rebounded this year with the addition of 102 new outlets carrying the category. Product categories continue to demonstrate a pattern of gains and losses in alternating years as dealers readjust inventories.