Here is a breakdown of sales researched by a gentleman on UKMix website that suggests the 5.4 million is for GH1 on it's own, if you add the sales of the GH1+2 box set and the Platinum collection you would have sales of around 7 million, which is awesome
Queen - Greatest Hits. Charted November 1981
1981 - 2 (YEC) - 424,000 sold (MW) - 0.3m BPI
Even being released so late in the year it was still the No.2 album of that year.
1982 - 27v (YEC)
1983 - 84v (YEC)
1984 - 47v (YEC)
1985 - 43v (YEC) - 0.9m BPI
1986 - 35v (YEC)
So this album did great on the YEC even with all those various artist albums around.
At the end of 1986 MW gave total sales of 1,828,375.
1987 - 95v (YEC) - 170,000 sold (MW) - 1.8m BPI
In the 20th Anniversary of Radio 1 Chart in 1987, the album was 8th. (The chart runs from 1967 to 1987).
1988 no info
1989 no info
1990 no info
1991 - 25 (YEC) - 3.3 BPI
The 3.3m shipment from the BPI was on 1st January 1992 - so really it is for shipments until the end of 1991. This was the last time the album was certified. Therefore we need to piece together sales from 1st January 1992 onwards.
I have a figure from royalty payments for half of 1992 - that is July to December. It is 152,652 and includes record club sales. From YEC charts in 1991 and 1992 this album was selling hugely following Freddie Mercury's death. With sales from the second half of 1992 we can estimate sales for the whole year:-
1992 - 300,000 sold (estimate) - 34 (YEC)
1993 - 150,682 sold (includes CLUB sales)
1994 - 174,173 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 75 (YEC) - 33 (T200w)
1995 - 147,638 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 100,000 sold (MW)- 28 (T200w)
1996 - 173,316 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 103 (YEC) - 52 (T200w)
1997 - 113,397 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 49 (T200w)
So sales from 1992 to 1997 total 1,059,206. Amazing sales both in shops and through clubs (over 30% of the total) and spending sometimes the whole year on the T200 charts. We also have a figure of 1,300,000 (MW) for sales in the period 1990 to 1997 which does not include CLUB sales.
Add 3,300,000 to 1,059,206 and we get 4,359,206.
1998 - 122,610 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 47 (T200w)
1999 - 156,211 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 101,595 sold (MW) - 123 (YEC) - 49 (T200w)
2000 - 135,813 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 113,000 sold (MW) - 126 (YEC) - 52 (T200w)
2001 - 101,514 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 101,170 sold (MW) - 155 (YEC) - 51 (T200w)
2002 - 67,318 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 63,000 sold (MW) - 31 (T200w)
2003 - 46,653 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 50,300 sold (MW) - 14 (T200w)
2004 - 28,971 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 31,100 sold (MW)
Several trends to note here. In 2002 annual sales dipped below 100,000 (probably for the first time since 1981!!). Part of the reason was the release of the Platinum Collection.
Also CLUB sales start to really decline by about the year 2000. You can see this by the way the REC figures (which include CLUB sales) and MW figures (which don't) become almost equal. The album also starts to disappear from the T200 chart.
Still from 1998 to 2004 sales were 734,090. Add this to our running total and we get 5,093,296 - CRIKEY!
And then to 2005 and a revival. REC sales until September were 61,092, so sales for the whole year I will estimate as:-
2005 - 75,000 sold (includes CLUB sales) - 233 (YEC) - 35 (T200w)
So the album is back and still charting well in 2006.
If the Platinum Collection had never been released, sales would have been higher again.
So adding the figures for 2005 we get a final total of