Record stores in Germany are fighting back against the German Post and DHL, after the organisations detailed pricing changes that will heavily affect the cost of international shipping.
As of July 1, the dimensional criteria for packages shipped under the category of ‘Warenpost International’ – the standard for shipping vinyl records overseas – will be reduced. Once the change is enacted, packages will need to come in at under 25cm wide. Given that 12-inch records come in around 31cm before packaging is even factored in, record stores can no longer rely on Warenpost International for orders shipped into or out of Germany.
At the moment, shipping a record through DHL or German Post will cost between €5 and €10 (£4.29-8.58). When the changes come into effect on July 1, however, sellers will need to begin shipping stock under the category of ‘Päckchen M International’, which can cost up to four times more.
Speaking to Mixmag, Andy Vas – owner of the German-based Yore Store – said: “There’s no way people will want to pay €20 for shipping on a €10 or €15 record.”
Vas told the publication that international markets – the United States’ in particular – are crucial to the longevity of German record labels and stores. He continued: “I’ve been doing this since 1998, and the US is our strongest market for selling records. No record shops will be able to survive without that, because we can’t survive just from walk-in customers.”
Before the changes are made to Warenpost International, Dirk Borrmann – owner of the Cologne store Drake Records – has launched a Change.org petition to protest them. In an statement, he wrote: “Many record sellers and record store owners in Germany fear that the number of our foreign [orders] will decrease, which could act as a final death blow for many retailers who have already struggled to remain afloat during the pandemic.”
At the time of writing, the petition has received a little under 11,300 signatures, with a current goal of 15,000. You can support the petition by signing it here.
Late last year, artists and labels in the UK opened up about the “outrageous” impact and “spiralling costs” of sending music and merchandise to Europe in the wake of Brexit. Alcopop! Records’ Jack Clothier, for example, said it was “difficult to entirely separate Brexit from COVID issues” when it came to factors that impacted international shipping, but that issues relating to “outrageous” postage prices and delays were “Brexit through and through”.
“Postage prices have gone through the roof,” Clothier said last November. “Two years ago, we used to be able to ship vinyl to Germany for around £6, but now it’s now double that or more. Couriers from Czech Republic (where the majority of indie vinyl is pressed) are only spiralling. Brexit. COVID. Both? It’s all sending it through the roof.
“One vinyl manufacturer is now even telling their clients that they have to allow scope for the cost of production to go up over the next six months, as we don’t know how fucked up the world will be by then. Imagine that email: ‘Sorry Jack, that vinyl you ordered six months ago is going up by £400 because Boris has nuked our one remaining link with Europe. You can cancel it and go somewhere else, but that’ll add another half a year onto your album campaign’. You’re stuck aren’t you?
“When you’re working on razor-thin margins in an indie label anyway, you start adding all those expenses on and you suddenly go from a razor-thin profit to a pretty chunky loss.”