These London, Ont., record shops are seeing a resurgence in CD sales. Here's why

If you've held onto your CD collection, you're in luck. Compact discs may have peaked in popularity about 20 years ago, but some say they're making a comeback. 

Compact disc sales have taken off — again, says local record shop owner

man in record store smiles at camera
Streaming and downloading music just doesn't scratch that itch for music collectors, says Troy Hutchison, owner of Grooves Records in London, Ont. He's noticed CDs sales have taken off after rising over the last few years. (Michelle Both/CBC)

If you've held onto your CD collection, you're in luck. Compact discs may have peaked in popularity about 20 years ago, but some say they're making a comeback. 

In a world dominated by online music streaming, record shops in London are seeing an uptick in popularity for CD sales among music enthusiasts. 

While some music collectors are feeling regret for giving away their CD collections with an urge to start again, other younger listeners are picking CDs as their newly found musical medium of choice.

It's something Troy Hutchison, owner of Grooves Records on Dundas Street in London, is seeing first hand. He's noticed a rise in CD sales over the last few years, and says they've now taken off.

"We've lived in the digital era for almost 20 years now, and people have decided that they like physical music, just having a collection," he said. 

"I think music fans just really want to have something they can touch and put on their shelves, and CDs are doing it for some folk these days. Streaming and downloading any of the digital formats just don't scratch that itch."

racks of cds at record shop while customer browses albums in the background
A customer browses the CD stock at Grooves Records in London. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Price is also a factor, Hutchison said.

"Vinyl has always been that format of choice. However, it's been getting more and more expensive lately," he said. "CD prices can be pretty cheap." 

It's a switch from when he began collecting music as a teenager, when CDs were the main format and vinyl was cheaper, he said. 

For Hutchison, the resurgence is also about fun. 

"It's more fun. Spotify is kind of boring. It's too easy; easy is boring." 

'There's definitely major growth' 

"The world of CDs is growing all the time,"  said Danny Ormsby, who works at Grooves Records. "There's definitely major growth. There's a lot more popularity with younger people these days with CDs."

He believes the younger audience is fuelled by the price point — and some nostalgia. 

"CDs definitely have a nostalgic vibe. It's a different version of nostalgia because some of these people are 20 to 25 [years old]. They might not have even grown up with CDs."

man in red toque smiles at camera in record shop
'There's a lot more popularity with younger people these days with CDs. It's growing all the time,' says Danny Ormsby, who works at Grooves Records. (Michelle Both/CBC)

CDs are rising back in popularity for local bands too, he said. 

"There's a lot of young punk bands coming up in the city. They've been putting out CDs that have been moving."

Ormsby finds the sound quality is better on physical albums than streaming services. "[Streaming] compresses the sound files down so much... it's a big difference," he said. 

In 2021, CD sales saw a 21 per cent jump in sales from the previous year, the first time CD sales had increased in nearly 20 years, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). But time will tell if they are here to stay on a large scale. In 2022, those sales fell by 18 per per cent.

man in red shirts sits at a desk with music albums behind him
Michael Todd, owner of Speed City Records in London, says he saw about a 10-year low in CD sales, but is seeing a lot more interest in CDs lately. (Michelle Both/CBC)

'The CD is a great format — always has been'

At Speed City Records on Springbank Drive in London, owner Michael Todd said he's also seen a lot more interest in CDs.

"People forgot about CDs for quite some time," he said, estimating a 10-year low on CD sales. 

But that all shifted in the last few years, he said. 

"We're selling lots of CDs all the time."

The price is right for people who want to collect physical music, said Todd. 

"The CD is a great format — always has been. I still have my CD collection. I never sold them off. In fact, I've added more CDs to my collection in the last year than I have in a very long time." 

older man looks at vinyl in record shop
Cathy Dalgarno, shown at Speed City Records on Springbank Drive in London, says she's held on to her CD collection of about 550 albums. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Customer Cathy Dalgarno has held onto her CDs, too. She's collected about 550 of them —from jazz, blues, classic rock and a bit of everything, she said.

While she listens to vinyl, she said CDs are less expensive and more convenient. 

"When you don't want to get up and change, turn over the record. A CD is easier because you can put it on for an hour. You can have a nap and wake up and then change the CD." 

hand holds three CDs
Hutchison says Grooves Records attracts a lot of teenagers, who were born and raised in the digital era and are now buying CDs now. (Michelle Both/CBC)

Independent record shops are celebrating Record Store Day on Saturday, April 22.


Michelle Both is a reporter for CBC London. She holds a master's degree in journalism and communication from Western University. You can reach her at or on Twitter at @michellelboth.