Are CDs Dead? Major US Retailers Seem to Think So

Best Buy drop CDs while Target sets out major demands to continue carrying the format.


The death knell may be sounding for CDs as major US chains Best Buy and Target move away from stocking them. Billboard Magazine reports that CD sales were down 18.5% last year resulting in Best Buy deciding to drop the format which is worth an estimated $40 million to the industry, but they will continue to stock vinyl for the next two years. Target on the other hand will continue to sell CDs provided their strict conditions are met. Currently Target, like a lot of major retailers, have 60 days to pay for their orders but can return any stock they don’t want within that time frame but going forward, Target want to only pay for CDs when they are scanned through their tills.

Target has made the same demand of DVD suppliers but there’s no indication of whether music labels and distributors will agree to the terms. Neither retailer has the volume of sales they used to but can still generate significant sales for artists.  Currently the plan for music labels is to wait and see what happens with DVD distributors and whether Target drops that format if their demands aren’t met.

Digital downloads have destroyed the physical format market and resulted in significantly reduced royalty payments to artists although vinyl has had a strong resurgence. Ghost’s latest album, Prequelle, bucked the trend with sales of 67,000 with 61,000 sales being CD and vinyl, but Ghost are known for benefiting from their fan base of vinyl collectors by releasing multiple vinyl colours of an album.

As two of the largest purchasers in the world, Best Buy dropping CDs is a bad indication for the future and if Target do drop CDs it won’t be the immediate end, but it will certainly hasten the demise of them.