Huw Thomas, Managing Director at PMC, reflects on 2016.

This is the time of year when I am normally reflecting on what has been and what is yet to come. I have been known to go out on a limb and make predictions about expectations for the year to come. This year, the world has gone crazy. Recent events suggest that things are not settling down. The normal order of things seems to be severely lacking in many areas.

Back in June, the world was shocked when the UK voted for Brexit with the Leave campaign securing victory with a margin of 52% to 48% that wanted to Remain. The Bookies, who made the Remain camp odds-on favourites and who had claimed that their odds were better indicators than polls which were veering all over the place, took a massive bath.

Hot on the heels of the UK Brexit shock, November saw Donald Trump again shock the world by winning the candidacy to be the next US President. This, even on the back of him urging his supporters to go out and vote on a date which was twenty days after the election! Donald secured the victory on the basis of 306 Electoral College votes compared to Hillary’s 232, even though Hillary had secured 48% of the population’s votes compared to Donald’s 46%. I don’t think this outcome supports the case for Proportional Representation!

At the end of November, Black Friday in the UK was a significantly more timid affair than it was in 2015. The big shift online did not happen, with only a 6.7% increase on results from last year, surprisingly short of the 25% increase predicted. Interestingly, shopper footfall was up by only 2.8% compared to a predicted decline of 5%. Have we reached the equilibrium between online and in-store sales?

Last week sales of vinyl records outstripped digital album downloads for the first time ever. Vinyl’s triumph was announced by figures provided by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), which revealed that more money had been spent on vinyl albums than on digital album downloads. ERA have provided figures which show that, in week 48 of 2016, £2.4m was spent on vinyl, while only £2.1m was spent on the digital download of albums. The figures significantly contrast with the statistics that were recorded at this time last year, when only £1.2m was spent on vinyl albums while digital downloads racked up an eye-watering £4.4m worth of sales.

The ERA has suggested that the swing in sales compared to last year could be attributed to factors such as the recent Record Store Day Black Friday, the increasing popularity of vinyl as a Christmas gift, and the greater number of retailers – which now includes supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco – who now stock vinyl.

So my predictions for next year? The EU collapses and European countries clamour to become part of the UK, Nigel Farage secures the deputy Presidency in the US, the world starts cooling and the Roswell Incident is proven to be true. Far-fetched I know, but who would have believed anyone that predicted the events of the past few months above. Let’s hope I’m wrong!

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