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Some worry that after 52 weeks have expired, we might well have given back the [year's] gains altogether.
SALES GAINS SLIP, SLIDING AWAY
Can Q4 Parade of Superstar Releases Reverse the Recent Downward Trend?
Can the traditional superstar-heavy Q4 release schedule put record sales back on the positive track?

With a boost from Veterans Day, and Eminem (at the very least) joining some big releases that hit last Tuesday, it now looks like sales might be flat to slightly up against last week’s number. But after the numbers come in on Monday morning, insiders tell us that we are still virtually assured of being down for the ninth consecutive week against last year’s sales at this time.

The industry has given back most of the early gains we garnered in the first half of the year, now up only a paltry 3.9% year to date. Some worry that after 52 weeks have expired, we might well have given back the gains altogether. The one bright spot is that there will be 53 weeks in this calendar year. The last time that happened was in 1998, when week 53 contributed a sizeable 2.4% to the year’s bottom line.

So what label groups have been responsible for what uptick in sales so far? Here’s a report card for the year as we finally start the fourth quarter in earnest. In overall sales, Sony/BMG gained 6.8%, up almost 10 million units over last year, although the breakdown between the two merging companies favored BMG, up a whopping 9.6%, while Sony’s uptick was only 4%. UMG predictably also showed strong gains, up 6.7% over last year on an added 9.2 million units so far. EMI has posted a 7.4% gain, up 4 million units. WMG stands as the only loser here, down 6.3%, dropping some 5.5 million units so far compared to ’03. WMG’s numbers look even worse taken in the context of current product, where they are down a whopping 13.7%.

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