Vinyl countdown: London's independent record shops under pressure as business rates jump

Helen Cahill
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A portrait taken on May 13, 1983 shows B
David Bowie's "Black Star" pushed up vinyl sales last year

A question mark hangs over the future of London's independent record shops as property taxes sky-rocket across the capital.

Vinyl stores in London are dealing with an average rise in business rates of 22 per cent after the government re-evaluated the tax at the beginning of this month.

Read more: Javid denies business rates tax grab, says Treasury lost money last time

Record shops are preparing for Record Store Day, a day celebrating independent record retailers, and with rising taxes to contend with, a sales boost will be particularly important for the industry.

For 28 record shops participating in Record Store Day, the total business rates bill this year will come to £428,992, according to analysis by City A.M.. This represents a 28 per cent rise in property tax, up from £334,133 for the previous tax year.

Over next five years, when business rates for these outlets will be reassessed, the stores will pay out a total of £2.1m.

Read more: Vinyl comeback led by David Bowie helps UK music to vintage 2016

Business rates are tied to rents, making record stores particularly vulnerable to the tax change. Since 2010, when the rates were last set, rents have rocketed in the parts of the capital populated with record shops. Vinyl stores in Shoreditch and Farringdon, for example, face rate rises of more than 50 per cent.

Thankfully, the vinyl revival will help to boost sales for record shops; 3.2m vinyl records were sold last year, the highest number since 1991.

And, music makers are also benefiting. According to figures from the Performing Rights Society, a record £527.6m was paid out in royalties to songwriters, composers and music publishers in 2016.

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