German music biz slow ahead of holidays

WOM chain reports sluggish sales

BERLIN -- Business has started slowly for the recorded music market in Germany this Christmas, according to retailers contacted by

"Business has started (at a) very sluggish rate. We expected more. But that was the same in 2008 and then just before Christmas it really happened. I think it will be the same this year," reported Bruno Ruttgers, purchaser for the chain WOM in Cologne on Friday.

At WOM, the big hitters are the German Duo Ich+Ich and U.S. post-punk group the Gossip. "This means that the older generation buys for the kids," Ruttgers said. "The youngsters that want to give CDs as present for their parents or grandparents are not on their way yet. They really only come three or two days before Christmas."

Angela Mlodoch, purchaser at the press-center in Lubeck, confirmed the trend. "But last Saturday it started (to take off) a little bit," she says. "I have the feeling that for the moment people are more strolling through the shops than buying anything."

Mlodoch estimates that the Christmas business in 2009 will be worse than 2008. "A lot of people did not get a Christmas bonus and have less money anyhow," she says.

Hits at the press-center in Lubeck are new sets by Ich+Ich, Robbie Williams and Sting.

"Very slow, it could be a lot better," comments Sven Schumm, purchaser at the consumer electronics chain Media Markt in Bayreuth. But he hopes for the same sales levels as in 2008.

"I am sure that the customers will still come; they just take their time," he says. Top-sellers are albums by Robbie Williams, the a capella group Adoro, Ich+Ich and Lady Gaga.

Music makes up 14.7% of the Christmas presents that Germans buy, including CDs, DVDs, download vouchers, music merchandising products, concert tickets and MP3 players, according to the Cologne-based Market Research Institute on behalf of the association of the German music-industry association (BVMI) in Berlin.

The agency asked 1,000 people aged between 18 and 69 years via the Internet this week.