Cassette tape sales have doubled in the UK (but there's a catch)

Cassette tapes are having a mini-resurgence. Sales in the UK in 2017 more than doubled, and 2018 sales are currently running at 90% up year on year, reports Official Charts.

Why? Who knows. Certainly a lot of artists are putting almost as much thought into their cassette releases as they are their vinyl releases. 2018's best-selling tape so far is Kylie Minogue's latest album, Golden, which came with a collectable, glitter-gold clear tape, while AC/DC's Record Store Day special release of Back in Black also makes it into the top 20.

Second on the 2018 top-sellers list is the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, Awesome Mix 2 (with Awesome Mix 1 still at number 7), while albums from Snow Patrol, 30 Seconds to Mars and Manic Street Preachers also feature in the top 5.

MORE: Toshiba tape player promises high-res audio from cassettes

But there is something of a catch. While the jump in sales sounds impressive, the numbers being sold remain relatively low. In 2017, the total volume of cassette tapes sold in the UK was 22,011. That compares to 10,912 in 2016 and 5,801 in 2015.

This pales somewhat in comparison even to vinyl sales; some 4.1 million vinyl records were sold in 2017, bouyed by 'superfans' who spend more than £400 per year on records. Will cassette tapes find their own superfans? Maybe hi-res audio cassette tapes will make all the difference...


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Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is the Content Director for What Hi-Fi? and Future’s Product Testing, having previously been the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across the print magazine and website for almost 20 years, writing news, reviews and features on everything from turntables to TVs, headphones to hi-fi separates. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung; reported from CES, the Bristol Show, and Munich High End for many years; and written for sites such as the BBC, Stuff, and the Guardian. In his spare time, he enjoys expanding his vinyl collection and cycling (not at the same time).