How a simple mistake brought LPs back to US stores

It was a simple clerical error, the kind we've all made at some time or another. A tick in the wrong box, an extra zero on the expenses claim – well, that's my excuse – or a form not filled out properly.

Except in this case, it's the reason why a chain of stores in the Pacific Northwest of the USA is now stocking vinyl LPs again - and by all reports doing rather nicely with them.

It seems an employee of the Fred Meyers chain, which sells everything from food to clothes and electronics, meant to order the special CD/DVD edition of REM's Accelerate album, but instead entered the code for the LP edition. Before long, boxes of LPs started arriving at the stores, and while some managers sent them back, others put them out for sale – and 20 discs were sold on the first day of release.

As a result, the chain is now trialling LP sales in around 60 of its stores in Oregon, Washington and Alaska, and says it's so pleased with the response that it's planning to extend the policy to all of its stores next month.

Apparently the top seller so far is The Beatles' Abbey Road, but discs from the likes of the White Stripes, the Foo Fighters Metallica and Pink Floyd are also selling well, the company says.

So is this the beginning of a major boom for the LP? Don't hold your breath – while US shipments of LPs to the shops were up 36% last year, and set for a similar rise this year, with CD sales dropping around 17 per cent last year, there's still some ground to make up.

Last year around 450m CDs were sold, and the most optimistic estimates suggest 2008 LP sales will be just short of two million.

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.