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Acoustic and electric guitar imports down 56% and 31% in UK in 2023, report finds

“The industry desperately needs facts and figures, not vague feelings about what might or might not be happening,” says Alan Greensall, who carried out the report.

A close up shot of the strings on an acoustic guitar

Image: David Trood / Getty

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Imports of almost all categories of musical instruments recorded huge falls in 2023 across the UK, a report has found. Acoustic guitar imports were down by 56 percent, and electric guitars imports were down by 31 percent.

The report was carried out by Alan Greensall of Greensall’s Synergy Statistics. His career includes former senior roles at Rose-Morris, Roland, Sound Technology, Line 6 and the MIA (where he served as both Director and Chairman of Statistics & Trends and Credit Director).

Greensall collected the findings via the Office For National Statistics, uncovering that imports of almost all categories of musical instrument products saw a significant decrease during the last year. UK data is compiled bi-annually, which means that these figures were recorded up to June 2023. It includes other instruments aside from guitar. These are:

  • Synthesisers (down by 37 percent)
  • Drums and percussion (down by 11 percent)
  • Digital pianos (down by 47 percent)

Speaking exclusively to MI Trade News, Greensall says (via a press release shared with Guitar.com): “The industry desperately needs facts and figures, not vague feelings about what might or might not be happening. Relying on that is like driving a car with your eyes closed and waiting until you hit something. How can retailers and manufacturers plan what to order or stock if they have no idea where the market is heading?”

“Previous attempts to come up with accurate figures have been very wide of the mark. The UK’s MI industry has consistently failed for the last 20 years to produce accurate data and has tended to use the less focussed statistics produced for the US publication Music Trades,” he says.

Greensall later adds, “There are a lot of questions these statistics raise, for example, are there enough guitars arriving to sustain the historic sales numbers, or is the UK stock holding in distributors and retailers able to bridge the gap? Are the instruments in stock actually selling through?”

Synergy Statistics is now finalising its full 2023 reports for its contributors. Greensall says that companies in the industry are welcome to contact him for details of how to get access to these.

Within the next few weeks, completed reports will reveal the final six months figures for the second half of 2023. For more information, go to Synergy Statistics.

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