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Typically, retailers receive shipments of stock prior to its street date release, so that the product can be placed on display shelves for store opening that day. Shipments come marked very clearly with a "do not sell before release date" label designating a street date mandated by the distributor. Shipments may sometimes arrive up to three weeks in advance.
Retail outlets can be severely punished by manufacturers for releasing a product even a day before the street date, a process known as "breaking street." If a retailer breaches the contract establishing a street date, the manufacturer may impose fines, may withdraw privileges to distribute future products from that manufacturer, and may file a lawsuit to enforce the contract. However, there is no documentation of a retail chain or store being fined or any action taken against them [Action is reportedly being taken against a retailer who sold a copy of Pokemon X and Y Versions early.] 
The Street Date (thestreetdate.com) is a website run by CBS Radio, Inc. which keeps track of new album releases and presents relevant and exclusive artist content every Tuesday - the day that new albums typically hit the street.
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