HMV sought insolvency protection last night, becoming the second big name retailer on the battered British High Street to come close to defeat in the first few weeks of 2013. This comes after the music retail giant spent several years struggling to turn its business around as customers have increasingly shifted to shopping …
Re: Rents and rates
I do look up prices on my phone, and if its within £1-2 I'll usually buy in store, as no delivery prices and i get it there and then... Otherwise I'll wait and order online...
Convenience is only worth so much....
Re: Rents and rates
I don't mind Subway sandwiches but neither do I think they represent good value for money so I can see why a local bakery / deli could still enjoy good business even if one parked itself next door. There's a deli in Dublin called Pig and Heifer not far from an O'Briens sandwiches, Subway and Bagel Bar and I would walk past all of these for a chicken paddy sandwich.
Biggest issue with Subway IMO is it doesn't matter what you order, it all tastes the damned same. Some of the staff can be fantastically annoying when it comes to selling up the order too.
What is there that makes the "high street" more important than any other shopping location?
As consumers we have flocked in our thousands to "out of town" retail parks and in our millions to online shopping, so it seems that the majority of people dont want to shop on the high street.
What we look at as the "traditional and important" high street has only really been there for about 150 years, and in most large areas, the shopping high street has migrated over the years as shops closed and new ones opened.
The important thing is that people are still able to get jobs (not that a specific type of job is sustained) and this is a legitimate worry, but I cant see why this has to be done through the artificial mechanism of sustaining the "high street."
A minor point, which I have noticed with both Jessops and HMV, and which applies in all these bankruptcy cases, is that the first thing that administrators do when they come in is cancel all obligations to consumers, such as gift cards, returned goods, goods ordered but not delivered, etc. Jessops was planning to be shuttered, so they didn't care, but the administrators are looking to offload bits of HMV as a going concern. I will not be buying anything from there though as if it doesn't work I might well not be able to take it back. Might be OK for a £4 punt on a CD, but if they are trying to hock more expensive stuff, forget it.
The result of this "shirking" of responsibility (quotation marks because it's legally required) is that any High St shop that looks vulnerable loses lots of high-value purchases. (You can pay for things on your credit card, of course, but it's a lot more messy to deal with them than a retailer.) Amazon wins again.
Edit: and of course I was beaten to it by several commenters above. Slow typist!
The highstreet will likely turn into something like a row of car show rooms. You cant (typically) turn up and buy the car that day. But you do want to have a look at it.
Similar will apply to brands, they'll soon realise that people dont know about them if they arent on shelves that people wander passed. You might not have bought stuff at Jessops, HMV, Currys etc. But I bet many people went in and looked/touched/asked about stuff. Then went home and found it online.
Apple/Sony stores work on much the same basis. They're there to pimp the brand. You might not buy it there, but if you had a look at the shiny thing you want you then go home and find it at the best price.
The 'brand' doesnt care where it was bought so long as you bought it.
I'd expect to see more showrooms coming soon. Sony stores, Apple stores, Samsung, even HMV as a rebadged music showroom.
So you'll walk into town, lots of window shopping for clothes, gadgets, and other consumerist stuff. Buy a coffee, get on the free wi-fi and order online.... Then off to binge drink yourself to death.
Re: Highstreet Showrooms
@Ian 62 - some good points there, although I dont see anything that is intrinsically wrong with that particular march of progress. Such is life.
Apple is a slightly different thing though. They have the very strong advantage of being able to pretty much completely control the price of the product so you can visit the Apple store, play with the shiny thing but you cant then go online and find it cheaper.
This is a very significant factor.
I went in HMV last year
Looking to buy a vinyl record of Amy Winehouse but they didnt sell any Vinyl so I had to buy the record off ebay. Last thing I bought from there was a boxed set of the Godfather movies for a tenner as computer exchange didnt have any second hand ones cheap.
Re: I went in HMV last year
If by 'computer exchange' you mean CeX it actually means 'Complete Entertainment Exchange' afaik.
Now there's another mystery ...
How do CEX survive ? Their 2nd hand stuff is 95% the price of new, generally.
I once bought a SIMM from them, for £10. Paid cash. It was wrongly labelled so I took it back for a refund, which they point blank refused without "taking my details" which I wouldn't supply. even though they admitted it had been a cash transaction (so identity wasn't an issue).
In the end I couldn't work out a way to get the refund without giving over my details ... it was suggested I take them to court, but (a) that would have revealed my identity and (b) it was possible I wouldn't get costs.
Re: Now there's another mystery ...
Off prime rents for a start. CEX are usually in relatively cheap areas, whereas the likes of HMV are usually in prime areas.
Amazon might be a behemoth but I've actually found their customer service to be bloody good. So not only are they cheaper than the high street but almost always better to deal with too.
That might also have something to do with the miserable yoofs employed by many shops but the culture starts at the top.
Paris because she always give good service.
Agreed. Had an MP3 player show a fault - wouldn't charge. Emailed them asking what I would need to do IF it stopped working permanently. By return of email, I had an RMA number and free postage back for replacement. I hadn't even asked to return it - only what I need to do if I wanted to return it.
It started working OK the next day, but a intermittent fault on the headphone socket (caused by collision with Yoof on the guided busway cycle path - local college twats talking up the whole width of the path and not looking where they are going) prompted me to return it anyway to be on the safe side.
So, impressed by Amazon's customer support.
Went in there before Christmas with the girlfriend. Walked out empty-handed.
Went in there on their 25% off sale just last weekend (and it was 25% off the prices they were normally charging not a "sale-to-put-things-back-how-they-were-priced-anyway"). Walked out with £50 worth of stuff but - to be honest - that was more impulse purchase than anything else (we were both checking with each other "if it's okay to buy that" because we knew we were just impulse-buying and could get those films cheaper anywhere else), and they sell a lot of foreign movies that my girlfriend likes (we bought three foreign movies and two dvds-of-a-series). We had put a lot of stuff back on the shelves when we weighed up the value of it. There were no queues that time, either (which is unusual - they had some atrocious queues before Christmas, even weeks before, and not enough staff - enough to make me walk out without even looking because I wasn't going to queue through that for an impulse buy).
And what value do the staff add? None. It's basically a DVD and music library - flick through, get what you want, take it to the counter. What's the advantage over Amazon, etc.? Immediate availability of the most popular titles only (for years, they didn't know what "Just Good Friends" was when I was trying to buy it on DVD, didn't have it for years, and could only try to order "Just Friends", some American comedy movie).
Same as Comet - products on a shelf, pick your product, staff are useless, most things not in stock anyway, and pay over-the-odds to get what you can get elsewhere. It's basically a big supermarket for non-perishable items that's more expensive and more hassle than the alternatives.
Notice, also, that WHSmith have several large stores that have no DVD's at all on shelves (one in Watford has only two little turntable shelf things with about 20 unique DVD titles on there, most of them kids' films). They know they can't compete. About the largest WHSmith DVD section I see nowadays is the one near the BBC which sells, surprisingly, mostly BBC documentaries and comedies. They're quite good at knowing what sells on impulse and they've cut right back from the days when you had walls of DVD's in there, the same as they used to have shelves of ZX Spectrum tapes back in my youth but now don't sell videogames at all.
I'm not shocked. All these big, established chains wanted to do what they've done for 90 years and not change. They didn't stand up for the consumer (hell, imagine if they'd said we only sell DRM-free disks? That would be a kick in the teeth for their suppliers and also have consumers feeling they were on the same side). They didn't innovate. They didn't compete. They didn't change when they knew they couldn't compete. They just drive themselves into the ground, blinkered to reality.
Go find a sheet-music shop. It'll be some tiny back-street affair with a few instrument in the window, some adverts for tuition, maybe tutorials and CD's, spare parts, you name it. Because they know how big the market is, and what they have to do to keep afloat.
Now find a CD shop (HMV was pretty much the only one left - Virgin Music is dying off too and has been for years). They are IDENTICAL to how they always were, even down to rifling through bins of CD's put into four genres, with high prices, huge premises, and useless staff who got the job because they "like listening to music" (so, only about 99.9% of the population to choose from then). And nothing much else. No online shop, no burn-to-CD service, hell, they could have stuck some instruments in there and set up a £5-a-go recording studio for teenage group and try to sell the instruments on the side, but no. They didn't even TRY to change. They didn't even try to engage their core market (seriously - these music-fans wouldn't be interested in an instrument section, or some band trivia, or even indie band gigs in-store?). I have no doubt they made a lot of money for a LONG time, but it's hardly shocking that that came to an end.
I actually chose HMV as the "next to go" when I was shopping in there just after Comet went bust. I don't think Dixon Group will hold the monopoly for long, they just held out for longer but have the same problems as Comet did. WHSmith has held on pretty well in my opinion, but that won't last forever given the changes I've seen lately. I'd probably go for Pets At Home next - can't see how they make money from the occasional sale of a rabbit and some overpriced dog-food (and, hell, you can't even get a kitten or puppy from them!), especially with their usually-huge premises. That or Hobbycraft, but Hobbycraft covers quite a diverse range of people and products.
To be honest, wouldn't be surprised to see one of Wickes, B&Q or Homebase go soon, either. Overpriced tat and dumb staff in huge premises.
WHSmith will survive, maybe not on the high street but certainly at stations, airports, etc. By stocking a range of stuff needed immediately by the traveller they have access to a market that is harder to dent (though I will admit that eBooks and magazines are probably eroding that market over time.
P@H have vets in store; good example of innovation to better serve the needs of the customer. If you need pet food today or a new widget because Fido ate the last one you can't wait for delivery (kids, and parents with kids, are a big market and not that organised, trust me!)
Similarly Wickes and B&Q have a market in the DIYer. For one thing unless you are an expert builder or plumber, you really need to get widget A and flange B in your mitts at the same time to be sure they will fit together, and you always run out of left-handed screws halfway through a weekend job.
Have to agree about Homebase though, most useless shop ever. Not a proper DIY place, has so little of what you might need. Crap garden centres compared to even B&Q and a whole range of useless furniture and stuff that you never see anyone browsing, still less buying. Pretty sure they will be gone in a couple or three years.
Went in there before Christmas with the girlfriend. Walked out empty-handed.
Hope you got a good trade in rate for the girlfriend...
It's all your fault
Read this online this morning, The High Street is dead and it's all your fault. Made me laugh.
Town and city centres
Seems clear to me that there will surely be more of this as the spend shifts from the street to the screen.
I wonder if there will be a broad reimagining of what a town centre is over the coming decades away from the focus on shopping towards museums/galleries and new civic ameneties of actual use.
Re: Town and city centres
No, because there is no tax money to pay for it. Personal tax is being chewed up by the deficit and essential (and not so essential) public services. If the shift to online shopping with offshore companies continues (which it will), there will be fare fewer UK businesses left paying corporation tax and business rates, so who would fund these things?
I suspect that town centres will become much more residential (it has been happening in some of the bigger cities for years already). Depressed property market or not, there is a growing need (if not market with the money to pay for it yet) for housing, and there are a lot of commercial landlords sat on town centre property that is not going to generate much of a return in the foreseeable future.
We'll all be trekking to the out of town shopping centres for a bit of recreational retail therapy but doing most serious purchasing on line.
Re: Town and city centres
Town centers need to be revitalised as somewhere for the family to go for a day out at the weekend, get some impulse purchases in at the same time...
I would like to go there, take my kids somewhere to play, get some lunch, browse some stores... city centres should be fun for families!
Another thing, we need late opening every week, so shoppers can pop out after work to browse and buy.
Re: Town and city centres
"late opening every week" - that's one night late opening each week, and not every night.
For Norwich it's Thursday. I think that might once have been the half-day closing day.
I don't go down the city as often as I could/should but when I've been there on the weekend its generally busy.
Battled to compete???
I'm a massive music fan but when I visited my local HMV before Christmas it struck me how it had completely failed to innovate...
- Nowhere to sit
- No way to listen to music before buying
- No reviews, recommendations or profiles for new/local bands
- No way to view the discography of a band and little stock of back catalogue
- No way to find similar or related bands
- No attempt to promote music recently featured on adverts, tv shows or films
- Very little choice, apart the chart and the bargain bin
- No way to buy MP3s for immediate loading onto my phone/ipod/etc or to burn my own custom compilation CD
This meant there was no impulse buying - you had to do your research before visiting, and inside it looked like a budget supermarket - totally impersonal - yet the prices were usually higher than the competition - i.e. online. I just couldn't see the appeal any more.
Re: Battled to compete???
HMV could have spent a lot of money implementing all the things you suggest - but the internet will always be better.
I simply cannot think of any circumstances in which HMV could have competed successfully with the internet. They were screwed regardless.
Must have the inverse Midas touch; everything he touches turns to something brown and squishy. I bet he got paid well, thobuts.
Re: Trevor Moore
Jessops, HMV, who's next for his magic?
Re: Trevor Moore
He was at Comet before those two ...
Business rates are killing businesses - they would be better to get it back on VAT, corporation tax and the income tax of the people doing the spending. Taxing the high street to oblivion is accelerating the move to people shopping online.
I wonder who the last person was who
walked into HMV/Jessops and thought "thats good value, I can only buy that for more than half the price online, I must buy it here instead".
Don't get me wrong, I will shop on the highstreet, and will pay a premium for it, but in return I expect quality service and someone who understands the product. All I can see is a load of expensive box-shifters going out of business as their business model has been over ridden by a similer but cheaper (that provides better service).
I would have been upset when my Local Jessops closed, except they had got rid of those who knew what they were doing in exchange for extended warentee salesmen. The expert now has a good job working for the London Camera Exchange.
The high steet complained about the out of town shops being able to undercut them due to lower overheads, then those out of town shops complained that the internet under cut them due to lower overheads. It is time for the highstreet to pick it self up and dust itself of and sell something that the large out of town shops or the internet can not do, and that it good customer service and knowledge. Any high street store that dosn't can expect to go the same way.
Re: I wonder who the last person was who
"The expert now has a good job working for the London Camera Exchange."
... but in reality would you buy from LCE if they were 10-20% more expensive?
Re: I wonder who the last person was who
If LCE help me select and find the product I want, then yes I will as a mater of point. We need to support those that do provide a worthwhile service. I am not a Camera expert (just a keen amature), so need the guidance, I pay for that service. Buying music, I don't need guidance, can do that quicker and cheaper online, although I do enjoy finding new music, Amazon has a stab at helping us but I might welcome a small store with assistance who can help me find new music and bands. This was something HMV never did for me.
The basic fact is physical media is not dead but dying - games, films and music are all available online now - it's easier and in some ways better (iTunes Match for example gives you all your music on all your devices). There will always be purists who say the CD version is higher quality - well I imagine CDs will still be available and they could even sell lossless digital tracks.
HMV did not move with the times - consumers are moving digital, smartphones and tablets have just accelerated this trend.
I'm not suprised
Most of these stores will go, the concept of bringing a small selection of items to a building and emplying lots of people to try to sell them is simply an outdated business model. There are a few advantages for people but in general it's an expensive and inefficient system and it won't last.
You get a better choice online, it's cheaper, there is no annoying staff or music playing, and you can generally get more information about what you want to buy.
I think the concept of a street where you go to buy things will eventually be seen as a 20th century idea that was necessary at the time but became outdated and obsolete. I see few physical shops lasting beyond 2020 or so
I'd be sad to see HMV go but they are their own worst enemy. What other music store gives you a laugh by putting Bon Jovi in the metal section?
Overpriced goods that are cheaper elsewhere, instore music that is way too loud (and usually music I don't like) and staff that have never really been that helpful either.
HMV have consistantly failed to keep up with the times (downloads, cheaper prices etc). This is not solely because of Amazon and a like.
I doubt they will get a buyer for the business but iIf they did it would be much reduced in size.
The irony would be if Apple were to take over the leases on some of the stores and turn them into iTemples - sorry Apple Stores ;-)
They were nice to browse, but seriously, they had issues.
I was looking for a DVD recently, it was stocked by my local HMV for £13.99, according to the HMV website. I could order online, for collect at store, and pay only £13.99, or have it delivered for an additional... I forget how much.
It was also stocked by an online company, sent2u, for £10 with free delivery.
I wanted the dvd there and then, I was bored, and needed some AV entertainment, so I chose HMV, and selected collect at store. Placed my order, and went down to the store. "No sir, sorry, you can't have one of those copies, those are our store copies. You will need to wait for it to be dispatched from our warehouse. It will be about 2 to 3 days."
I cancelled the order, and placed an order with sent2u instead. It arrived the next day.
In my opinion, in part, HMV failed, because it failed to adapt to a changing market place. I am sad though, the local HMV was a nice place to browse during lazy saturday afternoons.
HMV are just robbing thieving bastards. They took peoples money at xmas when they KNEW they were going to do this.Wait till after Xmas, a common ploy, take people for a\s much money as they can at xmas then run off with it. BLATANT THEFT however you try to reword it
They STOLE my money for sure - all I got in return was a box with a shiny silver disc in it.
Another one bites the dust
Surprised no one else has commented on the fact that last year they installed a new CEO - the one that used to run Jessops.
Both of these companies appear to have fallen victim to a number of different problems but the biggest one seems to be that both got bought out by a bunch of finance shysters. Embark on an expansion plan, whilst running down the genuine USPs and treating them as cash cows/convenient debt writeoff. Add in all the other problems that you've all noted (along with some very unsound business plans) and watch it all go tits up.
One thing I really don't like about the various closures we've seen over the last couple of months is the unseemly haste at which the administrators lock the doors. There seems to be no effort to attempt to keep the business running whilst finding a fix/buyer like we used to see where it would be a few months before they got to that stage.
Very sad day. One of my fondest memories is spending time in the Coventry HMV scouting for new sounds. It was there I stood and listened to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds before demanding a copy of "whatever that was" for myself.
My other great memory was nipping out of HMV and diving into the Dog and Trumpet, which was next door and underneath it, for a pint or three.
Here in New York there was an equivalently bad day when Tower Records threw in the towel some years ago.
I don't recon scanning the Amazon feedback is anywhere near as useful as talking with people in a record store about what is new and good. Plus, no Dog and Trumpet next door in which to extend the discussion. Oh well.
Problem with Online Ordering (Amazon)
Hi Folks, One problem I had recently with online - I ordered 2 books from Amazon - did the add to basket thing but then shut down the browser tab (Boss Key)
Anyway I went back in when the coast was clear and re-ordered the books. Wasn't really paying attention & when the lot arrived I found I had 2 copies of each book.
Of course as a Supposed Tech-Literate I should have been aware that the cookies persisted and checked my basket & all that but lets face it - you'd want to be a proper numpty to accidentally buy 2 copies of the same book in a bricks & mortar establishment. (I also believe that Amazon could and should have had a little more validation - "are you sure you want to order 2 copies of etc")
Had to send them back to Amazon & got charged for postage which p*ssed me off mightily.
A win for Waterstones etc as I won't be using Amazon again in a hurry.
Re: Problem with Online Ordering (Amazon)
What exactly was the point of that story other than to confess your idiocy? Next you'll be boycotting Tesco because someone's kid put stuff in your trolley and you didn't notice.
Re: Problem with Online Ordering (Amazon)
Ha Ha- your comment made me laugh - Have an upvote Sir.
Re: Problem with Online Ordering (Amazon)
Oh, your story is funny, because I had a problem ordering from a physical record shop
- they took my order and said come back in a couple of weeks.
Which I did but I was told it hadn't come in so they said come back in a month.
Which I did but when I got there I was told it hadn't come in, so they said come back in a month.
I forgot to come in after that month so came in the month after, when a new guy said the order had expired after the first two weeks, did I want to re-order?
So out of bloody mindedness, I said, yes, I will order and reorder until I get this record or you tell me it's not available. And I had it on order and went in month after month for a year and then the shop closed down.
When Amazon started, it was one of the first things I ordered and it came in a week. Good bloody riddance to HMV they were useless
Oh, this is sad.
HMV. "His Masters Voice". This is why the dog is peering into the horn of the gramophone.
Hope they make it. Lost too many great companies so far this decade.
Re: Lost too many great companies
have you not read any of the above comments?
HMV have not been great for some considerable time.
Failed to recognise the change in model required by digital streaming; stopped holding wide stick and failed to compete effectively with supermarkets
Had no discernable unique selling point other than higher prices and never having what you want unless it was in the top 20.
And have you EVER ordered anything from HMV? what a waste of time.
Have another swig of jake and get back under the park bench
Re: Oh, this is sad.
Great companies - Jessops, Comet, JJB, Blacks - really... they were dinosaurs.
Haven't been in an hmv for years - got done for shoplifting from one at secondary school.
They used to be quite lax with selling age restricted content to schoolboys...and when they clamped down I didn't have any choice. I used to have a copy of emmanuelle which lived under a bush next to school and went round most of my year. Its probably still there. Memories.
Anyway.. they had that coming and this as well.
I'm really disappointed by their demise as a few years ago just after they had done the deal with Live Nation for the venues I really thought they were going to invent something innovative that could differentiate them from Amazon et al.
i imagined exclusive access to blocks of tickets via the high street outlets with aligned merchandising promotions instore in a way that could create an almost festival like atmosphere.
Make it special for people to go, make them need to go, capture them for something related when they are there and if you make it special enough, they will go back and want to pay for the bnefit of it.
they had the right venues, the right stores and the right expertise in the staff but unfortunately they never pulled any of it together so they just failed because they failed to evolve.
it's sad as I thought there was real vision and potential there but ultimately if they didn't do anything with it, death was inevitable.
Yeah, they were crap but
i do remember being from a small town with a small town record shop and once every few months making it to the BIG town with the big HMV and Virgin megastores. Seemed special somehow, in an MTV at their prime era kind of way.
Although forcing yourself to go out and rub shoulders with smelly plebs isn't so great, I do wonder if we'll all end up just sitting online shopping all weekend and showing our purchases as links on Facebook. Cheaper, better range - bit sad and solitary too.
Councils killed the high street!
You can't park anywhere without facing a huge parking fine these days! Nobody wants to get on a stinking bus. Sure you can buy stuff like clothing online but it does not beat the feeling of trying on a new pair of shoes to see if they fit correctly and don't rub. Or a new pair of trousers etc. Nor the immediacy.
With music and electronics sure. Everything else apart from small things you can grab off Ebay etc then you need a shop. Even if it's a supermarket.
If there were better arrangements made for people to park their cars for a much reduced parking fee or even free I am sure you could encourage people back. At least for certain goods. Maybe a huge parking area outside town with a short hop on tram line.
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