Brits splurged a whopping £1bn on digital goods in 2012, the first time we as a nation have passed that vertiginously high mark. £1,033,000,000 was spent on digital video, music and games, the BBC reports, an 11.4 per cent rise on 2011.
It's not good news for physical media, as you'd expect, with sales of disc-based entertainment plummeting by 17.6 per cent. Nevertheless, CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs still make up 75 per cent of sales, because people still like to own (and perhaps more importantly, give) stuff to put on our shelves.
A whopping 53 per cent (£552m) of digital sales were games, reflecting the enormous importance of mobile app markets and the continued success of distributors such as Steam.
Yet while game downloads grew as a market, it was by the relatively restrained figure of 8 per cent. Digital films rocketed up by 20 per cent and even music downloads grew by a healthy 15 per cent. This reflects the acceleration of home broadband speeds -- the most mainstream pursuits are now completed digitally -- and the perhaps exaggerated threat of piracy.
Meanwhile album sales slumped by 11.2 per cent, the Telegraph reports, as the pick and mix of digital music means people just buy singles -- which were up by 6 per cent, a fifth record year in a row. All of the 20 top-selling singles of the year sold more than half a million copies, with Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know taking the number one spot.
Nevertheless it's a deeply worrying trend for high-street retailers, by which I mean HMV, the only national chain left standing. His Master's Voice is in deep do-do, with huge debts. It's a hugely important company nevertheless, virtually the only place on many high streets you can find a half-decent selection of films or albums these days. Music and movie distributors may take bigger stakes in it, according to the FT, to make sure people can still buy their products when they go shopping for presents.
It'll be praying for the next generation of video game consoles to arrive sooner this year than later. Gamers will rush out to buy the next Xbox and PlayStation 4 and take them home the same day -- or at least try them in store. Can HMV keep going till next Christmas? It's a genuine concern.
Would you be bothered if you had to buy physical discs from online retailers? Or is everything you buy digital already? Upload your tales of retail woe to the comments section below, or our caring, sharing Facebook page.