Local Current Blog

Best Buy to stop selling CDs — but will continue to sell vinyl

A Best Buy sign circa 2014. (Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0)

In a development that would have been unthinkable 25 years ago, Best Buy will stop selling compact discs — but will continue to sell vinyl. As of July 1, reports Billboard, CDs will disappear from Best Buy store shelves, but the Richfield-based chain will continue to sell vinyl records for at least two years.

It’s the end of an era for music fans, particularly Minnesota consumers who remember browsing through the once-extensive supply of CDs at Best Buy, which was often the cheapest place to pick up the latest releases by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Garth Brooks.

“At one point, Best Buy was the most powerful music merchandiser in the U.S., but nowadays it’s a shadow of its former self, with a reduced and shoddy offering of CDs,” writes Billboard. “Sources suggest that the company’s CD business is nowadays only generating about $40 million annually.”

It’s part of the eclipse of the once-dominant CD market, which in terms of numbers is now back to about where it was during the days when Falco and Madonna ruled the charts.

The music industry is looking even more closely at another report from a big Minnesota-based retailer. Billboard’s sources say that Target is asking suppliers to sell CDs on what amounts to a consignment business: Target stores will stock compact discs, but if consumers don’t buy them, the discs get shipped back to suppliers with no cost to Target.

That’s an arrangement reminiscent of the book business, where publishers have typically been forced to buy unsold stock back from stores, and it will take effect even earlier for sales of another physical format that’s heading downhill: DVDs.

“Entertainment has been and continues to be an important part of Target’s brand,” said the company in a statement to Billboard. “We are committed to working closely with our partners to bring the latest movies and music titles, along with exclusive content, to our guests. The changes we’re evaluating to our operating model, which shows a continued investment in our Entertainment business, reflect a broader shift in the industry and consumer behavior.”