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Retailers received coal in their Christmas stocking this year: sales during the pivotal holiday period were down 10% from last year, according to Billboard.
Comparing Nov. 18-Dec. 23 with the same five-week period in 2011 shows sales of 54.9 million albums this year versus 61 million last year.
Billboard attributes the drop in sales to two factors: the lack of a superstar blockbuster like Adele’s “21” or Michael Buble’s “Christmas” that provided sustained sales of more than 200,000 for several weeks running, as well as the fact that last year’s figures included Dec. 24, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the the year.
The breakdown between physical and digital sales followed the shift during non-holiday periods: Digital album sales rose 5.3% during the five weeks, while physical CD sales were down 15.4%. Individual track downloads, however, were down 4.8% to 139.8 million units compared with 2011 sales over the same period.
While there were no sustained superstar sales retailers mentioned such titles as One Direction’s “Take Me Home,” Taylor Swift’s “Red,” Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox,” Mumford & Sons’ “Babel,” Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and Pink’s “Truth About Love” as strong holiday sellers.