I assumed that VHS tapes had gone the route of Polaroid film and were continuing to be phased out of existence. I must have been too hasty, because according to the Entertainment Retailer’s Association, videocassette sales in Britain have more than doubled in the past year.
In the grand scheme of home entertainment, these numbers are hardly a drop in the bucket. Movies, PC games, and console titles are still moving millions of copies per title. VHS has jumped up 214%, except total sales still haven’t cracked 100K.
But who’s still making all of these tapes? At least with other retro media formats such as vinyl and instant film, there are distinct advantages over today’s mediums. MP3s don’t have anywhere near the same fidelity or warmth, and modern cameras still can’t instantly print analog prints. But I don’t see anything VHS tapes can do that DVDs can’t do exponentially better.
One interesting tidbit is that music sales aren’t as far down as you’d expect. 2009 only saw a 0.8% decline despite the loss of large chain stores such as Zavvi and Woolsworth. According to ERA director general Kim Bayley:
“It’s too early to say whether this is the music market bottoming out”
But some changes to the music delivery system may be responsible. The average price of an album has dropped below £8 for the first time, and smaller, independent retailers are surviving. Seems the US could take a leaf out of their book, perhaps?