The woes of British retailer HMV are bad news for the music industry in the long-term, but in January so far they may have actually boosted music sales in the UK.

According to the Official Charts Company and the Entertainment Retailers Association, UK music sales were up 11.6% year-on-year in the first four weeks of 2013.

In fact, sales were up 15.3% in the first week, 14.2% in the third week and 12.9% in the fourth week, with a measly 3.8% rise in the second week bringing the overall rise down.

So how does HMV, which went into administration on 15 January, fit into this? “There has been a significant public reaction to the threat to HMV. Stores have been inundated with customers concerned that they may lose their local store and this appears to have translated into sales,” says ERA director general Kim Bayley.

The figures aren’t just physical CD sales though: they include physical and digital albums, as well as digital tracks.

People hurrying into stores to spend their HMV vouchers – once they were allowed to – may well have been a big factor, as well as people turning out to support their local stores. ERA tells Music Ally that digital was “very strong” in the first two weeks of the year, but that after 15 January “it went all physical”.

Any celebrations at the news will be muted, though. HMV accounted for a big chunk of physical music sales in the UK last year – 38% reportedly. If rescue efforts fail, many high streets will be left with supermarkets’ comparatively limited selections as the only place to buy CDs offline.

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