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Selling At Retail: Starbucks Will Stop Selling CDs In Their Stores Next Month

March 21, 2015

Have you ever purchased one of those CDs at the register at Starbucks while waiting for your drink? If not, your chances are limited, as the Seattle-based coffee chain has just announced they they are getting ready to pull all physical CDs out of their stores. The company is wasting no time in this move, planning to remove the albums starting in March.

While never their primary focus, Starbucks always made music a big part of the company in several ways, one of which was selling albums. Most of the titles available—typically only a handful at a time—were aimed at an older audience, the kind who might purchase a physical album on impulse. Each store’s offering was usually a healthy mix of new titles, currently-popular artists who have an appeal to the adult contemporary world (such as Sam Smith), compilations from some of history’s greats (Frank Sinatra, jazz greats, etc.) and various holiday albums.

On a call yesterday, a rep for the company said that the decision was made because the company is always looking for “relevant options” for their customer base, perhaps insinuating that CDs don’t fit that description any longer.

“We’re always looking to redefine the experience in our stores for our customers, and music has been at the core of that coffeehouse experience through overhead music, Pick of the Week, and physical CDs. Music will continue to be part of that experience, but we will continue to evolve.”

Starbucks deciding to nix all CD sales is a blow to an industry which saw only a small amount of growth in the format last year, some of which came from outlets like the coffeehouse. While major retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart all experienced another year of big losses in terms of how much product they moved, alternative outlets like Starbucks, Amazon, and a handful of others actually witnessed a small amount uptick in the number of albums sold. Some hoped that this would encourage the brand (and others) to increase their offerings, but it looks like 2015 will be another bad year for the CD.

The company did confirm that they are planning on continuing their Pick of the Week program, which highlights a new single every week, both in stores (via small handouts available at checkout) and online, and that they have other music-related programs in mind, though nothing they can reveal just yet.

Contributor

Hugh McIntyre

 




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