Edinburgh’s Avalanche Records warning as independent music shops suffer

Kevin Buckle may be forced to close Avalanche in January. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Kevin Buckle may be forced to close Avalanche in January. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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EDINBURGH’S Avalanche Records has become the second of Scotland’s dwindling handful of independent music retailers to warn of impending closure as fans increasingly buy directly from their favourite bands online.

Avalanche, a bastion of the Scottish musical landscape, says it will pull the shutters on its Grassmarket shop on 6 January unless there is a “notable and prolonged improvement in business” in the coming months. Owner Kevin Buckle is looking at various options to keep the store in business, but concedes that Avalanche could become an online-only operation.

“The thing about independent record shops is the customers we cater to are the fans of the bands,” Buckle said. “Unfortunately, bands have become more and more proactive in selling things themselves.”

Avalanche joins One Up Records of Aberdeen, which said last month that it would close after Christmas unless trading improved. The two rank amid the largest indie music stores in Scotland – together with Monorail and Love Music in Glasgow – and are among a group of what Buckle believes to be no more than 20 “true” independent music retailers across Scotland.

Latest industry figures chart the dramatic decline in indie shops throughout the UK, whose numbers have fallen from some 900 in 2006 to just 280 last year.

They face tough competition in a market where sales have been declining for several years. The Entertainment Retailers Association estimates overall UK music sales were down 4.4 per cent in 2011 at £1.07 billion, with downloads and online services such as Amazon accounting for more than half the total.

Avalanche, which has been trading in Edinburgh’s city centre since 1983, is now manned by Buckle and a smattering of enthusiastic patrons who help out on an ad-hoc basis.