back to article Amazon-bashed HMV calls in administrators, seeks buyer

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 …

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  1. Alan Bourke

    Wonder how much tax HMV paid

    ... in comparison to Amazon.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

      Since they made a loss, presumably none at all. That's how tax works...

      1. Derezed

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        I can think of another company that made a loss...Starbucks wasn't it?

        1. Ivan Headache

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          And I've often wondered how, with these perennial losses, they are still in business.

          1. Ivan Headache

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            That should have been attached to the post about Starbucks.

      2. paulc

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        forgot VAT, which HMV were billing UK customers at 20% and paying to HMRC at 20% while Amazon etc. are billing customers in UK at 20%, yet paying to Belgium at a much lower rate and pocketing the difference...

        1. the spectacularly refined chap

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          forgot VAT, which HMV were billing UK customers at 20% and paying to HMRC at 20% while Amazon etc. are billing customers in UK at 20%, yet paying to Belgium at a much lower rate and pocketing the difference...

          Which would be a compelling argument if VAT was not charged where the sale was actually made, i.e. here in Blighty. It's like that all over the EU in order that the single market actually works. In any case the standard rate of VAT is actually lower here than in Belgium and we have far more zero-rated categories than most of Europe to boot. What you actually mean is:

          I heard something about corporation tax recently but didn't understand it so made up a different story to complain about. Who cares that it isn't actually true.

      3. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        They pay 20% VAT on their sales though, unlike Amazon's Channel Islands based Indigo Starfish which sold CDs and DVDs until the VAT loophole was closed and the Luxembourg based Amazon MP3 store which pays 3% VAT.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. boltar Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        "So Amazon did pay more tax than HMV."

        You're forgetting about business rates. Companies have to pay them no matter what. And business rates thanks to our beloved leaders are currently huge. 4000 quid per square metre in some cases.

    3. Greg J Preece

      Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

      Wonder how much tax HMV paid in comparison to Amazon.

      Even if they hadn't been losing money, as others have pointed out, the answer would be "as little as humanly possible", like any company worth its salt.

      Seriously, I'm going to start forwarding posters like you to the "Tax Bores" section of the Speak You're Branes archive. Company in "legally reducing tax bill" shocker, film at 11.

      1. Lord Voldemortgage

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        "Even if they hadn't been losing money, as others have pointed out, the answer would be "as little as humanly possible", like any company worth its salt.

        Seriously, I'm going to start forwarding posters like you to the "Tax Bores" section of the Speak You're Branes archive. Company in "legally reducing tax bill" shocker, film at 11."

        You almost seem proud that these companies are doing all they can to limits of the letters of the law, and well beyond the spirit or the intention, to profit at the expense of, ultimately, everyone else including you and me.

        People are going to lose their jobs over this over this and even if you don't give a shit about them surely you are irked at the idea of having to support them.

        I see no reason to congratulate companies for legally reducing tax bills regardless of the consequences just because there is no option (or reason if you prefer) to punish them. It is done to our detriment and we should be pissed off about it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          It is done to our detriment and we should be pissed off about it.

          No it's done for the benefit of the companies, which benefits the shareholders of those companies (e.g. pension funds, other companies etc), and ultimately the employees of those companies. It may seem detrimental at the moment because of all the austerity measures, but when the economy is going well it's not a problem.

          If the government was seriously bothered about it they'd sort the tax legislation out, but that would likely have an adverse affect on the economy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            They shift the tax burden from the business to the employee. But ultimately it results in higher bills for everyone since vital infrastructure work (electric, gas etc) is then paid for out of extra charges made by the energy companies instead of being funded by government.

            In the worst case we get PFI where the interest rate makes the payments staggering. A council is Wales still has about £10 million left to pay on some houses they built in the 1970s!

            We need slower sustained profits by companies, not the get rich quick and then fail model that seems to be in place right now.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            "No it's done for the benefit of the companies, which benefits the shareholders of those companies (e.g. pension funds, other companies etc), and ultimately the employees of those companies."

            Trickle-down, neo-classical economics and known to be utter, utter bullshit.

            Along with externalisation of costs (e.g. expecting the public to cover a private cost).

            Oft repeated by those whose sole interest is to enrich the rich and impoverish the poor.

            And people wonder why we have terrorists...

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            "It is done to our detriment and we should be pissed off about it.

            No it's done for the benefit of the companies, which benefits the shareholders of those companies (e.g. pension funds, other companies etc), and ultimately the employees of those companies."

            In this context the for and to are not mutually exclusive.

            The reason for tax minimisation is to benefit the shareholders (not necessarily the employees) but it is done to the detriment of the general public.

            Companies have a huge amount of their operating costs covered by the state - education, healthcare, policing, defence, infrastructure etc. - which are funded through taxation.

            Tax minimisation to zero is often lauded as a "goal" of all companies - and I cant disagree with that, which is why stronger government regulation is needed.

            In effect paying no UK tax means that a company with UK employees, gets the advantage of not having to pay for their education, for the roads they travel on to get to work, for the healthcare system which keeps the employees working, for the transport infrastructure which delivers their goods, the police which protects the company from crime (and disgruntled employees...) and the military which defends their nation.

            Meanwhile, all of this is still needed, so it ends up being taxed elsewhere - or "vital" public services fail as a result.

        2. Jonathon Desmond
          Flame

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          So... tell us how much extra tax you have voluntarily overpaid for the benefit of the rest of us then?

          To paraphrase the late Kerry Packer: "If someone is paying more tax than they are legally required then they need to have their heads read. It's not as if the Government is spending it so wisely we should donate extra".

          If you have extra money to give away then give it to a Charity if you want to make a real difference (at least it's more likely to benefit the needy than giving it to Parliament....)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            None, I pay what is taken by PAYE. I can't do anything to fiddle that.

            1. Jonathon Desmond

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              As RYE says above, you can always request to increase your tax code if you feel strongly enough about tax minimization being wrong..... In fact, why doesn't everyone do that......

              What's that you say? Because they are not morons?

              Wait a second......

              Oh my god!! We live in a nation of 40 million tax minimizers. Bastards!

              1. The BigYin

                Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

                >Oh my god!! We live in a nation of 40 million tax minimizers."

                Of course we do, which is why we should lobby our MPs to change the tax laws.

                Never happen though.

          2. Psyx
            Stop

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            "So... tell us how much extra tax you have voluntarily overpaid for the benefit of the rest of us then?"

            Quite a lot, like all of us here have done.

            If I had an accountant, I'm pretty sure he could figure out a dozen ways of reducing my tax bill. The difference is that firstly it's not worth the cost of the venture, as I'm an individual not a company.

            And secondly because morally I don't agree with doing so. So please don't be keen to judge everyone by your own standards.

            1. Jonathon Desmond
              WTF?

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              You should look into that. It's well worth getting an accountant to run over your affairs because, on PAYE, if you do that once you get your Tax Code changed permanently (at least, until your situation significantly changes). One set of accountants fees, years of paying lower (read "correct") levels of tax.

              Of course if you think it is more moral to give extra money to the Government to spend on bankers, wars, duck houses and moats rather than enriching your own family or (if you don't need it yourself) a deserving charity then good for you.

            2. Greg J Preece

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              If I had an accountant, I'm pretty sure he could figure out a dozen ways of reducing my tax bill. The difference is that firstly it's not worth the cost of the venture, as I'm an individual not a company.

              And secondly because morally I don't agree with doing so. So please don't be keen to judge everyone by your own standards.

              I do. :-)

              The government, via one method or another, takes at least half of your money as tax. They then put it through a process of monumental wastage, at the end of which you will see a pithy amount in return. The minute you give a quid to the government (and this goes for any government, not just ours) then you can kiss a decent amount of that money goodbye.

              In a system where we are constantly reamed for more and more tax to pay for a ludicrously large public sector and hilariously mismanaged government spending, I think it's completely moral to try and keep as much of your money your own as possible. Last time I checked, we live in a capitalist society. If you set the rules, and I take advantage of those rules (without breaking them) to make life better for myself, I'd call that a success, not an immorality. Don't like it? Re-write the rules and cut wastage.

              People want to give all their responsibi-I mean, money to the government, and have them handle everything. Doesn't work, unfortunately.

              1. Captain Underpants
                Thumb Down

                Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

                @Greg

                That's great, until you start using any wholly or partially tax-funded infrastructure. Like, I dunno, roads. Or any transport sector which is wholly or partially tax-funded. Or any resource distribution service (water, power, sewage) which is wholly or partially tax-funded. Or (and this is the bugger) you start dealing with any company or individual who relies on said infrastructure or service that is wholly or partially tax-funded.

                The problem with your assertion that government are crap at doing stuff is that we've also seen, to some extent, the private sector be crap at doing stuff. The fact that it's theoretically possible to compete doesn't prevent World Class Bellends (Category: Felonious) like Capita from bidding on, being awarded, and subsequently hugely ballsing up large-scale projects.

                I posit to you the alternative assertion that you claim you want to minimise your tax burden while being entirely willing to parasitically make use of infrastructure and services funded by those of us who don't have a problem with contributing via taxation to the society in which we live. In which case, I'm primarily wondering why you haven't moved to the USA, their particular brand of "freedom" and economic policy would appear to be entirely in keeping with your philosophy.

          3. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            >To paraphrase the late Kerry Packer: "If someone is paying more tax than they are legally required then they need to have their heads read. It's not as if the Government is spending it so wisely we should donate extra".

            If you have extra money to give away then give it to a Charity if you want to make a real difference (at least it's more likely to benefit the needy than giving it to Parliament....)

            Only Kerry Packer didn't make any big donations to charity. Dick Smith tried to cajole him and other Aussie millionaires into it, but they said "We don't show off like you, Dick, we do it anonymously..."

            So, Dick Smith contacted all the major Aussie charities, and they all told him that they just don't receive massive anonymous donations.

            Dick Smith was the man who jumped a double decker bus over fifteen motorcycles, as a 'homage' to Evil Knievel.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Smith_(entrepreneur)#Population_policy_activism

            1. Jonathon Desmond
              Stop

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              >"...Only Kerry Packer didn't make any big donations to charity..."

              Wrong. Kerry Packer made lots of donations. The NSW Ambulance Service defibs are the one example that everyone knows about - but that aside, he gave regularly to hospitals in and around Sydney for years.

              (Note that you may be confused here; the Kerry Packer quote is enclosed in - funnily enough - quotation marks. The bit about donating any extra cash to charity rather than funding the Government was my own suggestion, although I am sure KP had similar sentiments)

              If you are going to invoke serial self-promoter Dick Smith why don't you mention his stunt from 2008 when he wrote to the ATO ( in an open letter, which seems to be the only way Dick can say anything ) saying that he intended to "do a Packer" on his tax from then on as he was sick of government waste? Even he seems to agree that it is better to control his excess funds and channel them where they will do some good rather than blindly hand them to the taxman.....

        3. Reading Your E-mail
          Flame

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          So, if your line of argument is correct then, no doubt, when HMRC last contacted you advising you of your tax code you contacted them and asked them to jack it up a bit as you felt you were not paying enough tax??

          Doubt it, no-one wants to pay more tax than they have to, if a company does then that means less money to go around (one of which is less/no pay raise), but I'm sure you would accept that without moaning right?

          1. Derezed
            Meh

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            I love you tax avoidance appeasers. Granted, nobody should pay more tax than they owe by law. Amazon avoiding taxis is equivalent to a very rich murderer getting away with it due to a technicality that can only be revealed by a horde of blood sucking parasetical lawyers manuipulating natural lanagage and bending the legalease until they get their vermim off the hook.

            It doesn't make it right, it makes it 'legal' in a very loose sense (before the loop hole is plugged and deemed illegal a week later).

            1. Reading Your E-mail
              Flame

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              "Amazon avoiding taxis is equivalent to a very rich murderer getting away with it due to a technicality that can only be revealed by a horde of blood sucking parasetical lawyers manuipulating natural lanagage and bending the legalease until they get their vermim off the hook."

              Really?!?! You honesty think that's a good comparison, WOW, swinging wildly and making stuff up is very hard to counter with facts, so I'm not even going to bother.

              "It doesn't make it right, it makes it 'legal' in a very loose sense (before the loop hole is plugged and deemed illegal a week later)."

              Last time I checked legal means legal until it is made illegal. When it is I'll be right behind HMRC for bringing a court case, until that point it is still legal, despite popular opinion.

              1. Derezed

                @Reading Your E-mail

                Of course Reading Your E-Mail...the law is black and white...the government just make these loop holes on purpose. I wish I lived on your planet.

              2. Derezed
                FAIL

                @Reading Your E-mail

                "Really?!?! You honesty think that's a good comparison, WOW, swinging wildly and making stuff up is very hard to counter with facts, so I'm not even going to bother."

                Is this an answer? So explain to me how hiring expensive accountants to find ways of evading tax law is not the same as murderers hiring expensive lawyers to find ways of evading criminal law? Both are amoral, both know exactly what they are doing (exploiting a system set up in good faith where the law abiding follow, and they manipulate). I can't quite see coherent argument in your attempt at insult.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  FAIL

                  Re: @Reading Your E-mail

                  > So explain to me how hiring expensive accountants to find ways of evading tax law is not the same as murderers hiring expensive lawyers to find ways of evading criminal law?

                  Erm, murder is against the law. How about that for a start?

                  You really are a cretin.

                  1. El Andy

                    Re: @Reading Your E-mail

                    "Erm, murder is against the law. How about that for a start?"

                    If you get away with it on a legal technicality relating to your arrest (as the OP was suggesting) then it isn't. Which is the point.

                    Tax avoidance may well be legal, the question is really whether it is ethical and a great many people think it is not.

                2. David Beck
                  FAIL

                  Re: @Reading Your E-mail

                  "find ways of evading tax ", is against the law. What has been discussed here is paying the legally required tax according to the law of the land. There is no right or wrong amount, just correct or incorrect. This is not a moral issue, it is a legal issue. If you want to make it a moral issue I suggest that you look at living in a theocracy. I understand there are several in the middle east that would provide examples of what it's like.

                  1. PrivateCitizen

                    Re: @Reading Your E-mail

                    "find ways of evading tax ", is against the law. What has been discussed here is paying the legally required tax according to the law of the land. There is no right or wrong amount, just correct or incorrect. This is not a moral issue, it is a legal issue.

                    Evading tax is illegal, however the point here isnt clear cut evasion, it is dodgy tax minimisation approaches.

                    For example, if you set up a parent corporation in a low-tax country then transfer your companies assets and claim it charges you an inflated price to use the brand / assets, you can claim this as a cost of doing business and legally minimise your tax burden in the UK. This is not against the law, it is just often a complete fabrication with no purpose other than to avoid tax.

                    This allows you to - as others have said - take advantages of the things paid for in the UK by taxpayers (roads, healthcare, policing, fire brigade, educated workforce etc) while not paying into the tax system yourself.

                    Legal but immoral.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              Yes, you're so right. And if only there was a group of people in a high position in our country who had the power to control things like this, such as by changing tax laws. Sigh.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              "Yes. Absolutely! If a company is profitable, well managed, has a solid and (perhaps) agile business there is no need other than greed to seek to reduce tax liability."

              Indeed, the businesses scream "It's capitalism! It is our right to pay nothing!" and the nation suffers, the people suffer. Sure the government may be making mistakes, but lower tax receipts are not helping matters. The businesses hiding their profits overseas so there is no "trickle-down" (vomit) doesn't help either.

              Then said companies hit trouble and they go screaming to the populace they have just (effectively) defrauded "Help us! We need you money (again) we are too big to fail!" and although the people see it for what it is, the government bails them out. A socialist action!

              A capitalist government would have let them fail.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            "Doubt it, no-one wants to pay more tax than they have to,"

            Wrong! I for one run a business that in no way seeks minimise it's tax liabilities - although it could.

            Call me mad if you like, but the business supports me and a fair few others with a good lifestyle, whilst happily paying it's full tax burden. It's a private limited company so perhaps not quite under the same shareholder cosh.

            I'm no socialist, but I'm no raving capitalist either. Maybe I'm just an idealist. Whatever I am, I am happy for me and the business to meet the full tax burden.

            "...if a company does then that means less money to go around (one of which is less/no pay raise) but I'm sure you would accept that without moaning right?"

            Yes, I would. Absolutely!

            Not only that, if necessary I would personally forego any pay rise and would even take a salary cut if it meant that staff would be guaranteed one - if funds were tight.

            If a company is profitable, well managed, and is agile enough there is no need other than greed to seek to reduce tax liability.

            Some would say a flawed philosophy. I would counter that it's a socially responsible philosophy.

            Of course, if things were looking difficult just over the horizon, I would consider reducing the tax burden but as a temporary defensive measure only.

            Ultimately though you can't blame a company for reducing their tax burden if the system allows it. Should this area be tightened up legally? Yes it bloody well should!

            1. Jonathon Desmond
              Stop

              Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

              >Wrong! I for one run a business that in no way seeks minimise it's tax liabilities - although it could.

              So:

              1) You don't claim operating costs as an expense?

              2) When you make a cross border sale within the EU, you write to the Tax Office in the other state offering to pay any differential tax that they would have collected had you been based in their jurisdiction?

              3) You pay your employees out of your after-tax profits rather than claiming their wages as a deduction against your profit?

              No?

              I didn't think so......

              That's all minimisation of your tax liability.

        4. Annihilator
          Stop

          Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

          "It is done to our detriment and we should be pissed off about it."

          Nope, it's done (partly) to our benefit. You think that if Starbucks et al were paying higher rates of tax that their prices would stay the same?

          Anyone who ever used CD Wow or Play.com to effectively avoid paying tax (prior to them changing that rule) are probably blissfully unaware that's what they were doing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

            Nope, it's done (partly) to our benefit. You think that if Starbucks et al were paying higher rates of tax that their prices would stay the same?

            Broadly - with some minor variation. If they hiked the prices they would pay more VAT (which tends to be more aggressively enforced than Corporation Tax) and at the end of the day CT is a tax on profits, so strangling the customer to get more money would still mean more tax.

            Prices might go up a little, but too much and people will stop drinking at Starbucks and going to other shops which are able to offer the same service at a lower price - maybe by not paying a fortune to "Licence" the brand name.

      2. Ommerson
        Stop

        Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

        Amazon was avoiding pay corporation tax. This is a tax on PROFIT. HMV's problem is that it was nowhere near having any in the first place.

        What Amazon *was* doing, was exploiting small consignment relief on imports of media supplied from the Channel Islands. For all I know, perhaps HMV was doing this as well for mail order? Just about everybody else was at the time. This loophole was closed earlier in the year, and that's done nothing for HMV.

        1. Bod

          Channel Islands

          "For all I know, perhaps HMV was doing this as well for mail order? Just about everybody else was at the time. This loophole was closed earlier in the year, and that's done nothing for HMV."

          Indeed they were as I remember and it's harmed them, likewise Play.com amongst others.

    4. Ed 11
      Joke

      Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

      Phew that was close. I was just missed by an out of control bandwagon.

    5. Bod

      Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

      Time to dig out the old classic quote...

      "No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue"

      Lord Clyde (1929)

  2. EddieD

    It was only a matter of time

    A slimmed down HMV may work, but I'm not sure. The assaults of the supermarkets and online are getting pretty powerful.

    Has anyone set up a "dead pool" of companies - or even types of companies - yet?

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: It was only a matter of time

      Somebody had an accumulator on Jessops, HMV and Thatcher.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was only a matter of time

      Yes, Hedge funds always have a dead pool: The current top ten shorted shares by hedge funds are (by % of shares out on loan):

      1. Home Retail Group - 21.4%

      2. W H Smith - 15.6%

      3. Weir Group - 15.2%

      4. Ocado - 13.9%

      5. Carpetright - 12.2%

      6. JKX Oil & Gas - 11.1%

      7. Dixons - 10.2%

      8. Thomas Cook - 7.9%

      9. Premier Foods - 6.1%

      10. Admiral - 6.0%

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was only a matter of time

        My money's on WHSmiths being next... haven't bought anything from them (or had a need to) for utterly yonks. I mean, what do they actually sell that you can't get from a supermarket or Amazon or one of those cheap book outlets (that also do stationary and art supplies). And odd, anchronistic, chain...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          Apparently WHSmiths make most of their money through a monopoly on the distribution side of things.

          1. Ommerson
            Thumb Down

            Re: It was only a matter of time

            This is also a sunset business because the retail of everything they distribute is as well (newspapers, CDs, DVDs, magazines). Retailing these good as well is surely putting all of the eggs in one basket.

            WHSmith is a store I really dislike shopping in. Cluttered, overstocked shops with shite customer service.

          2. jonathanb Silver badge

            Re: It was only a matter of time

            A monopoly on the distribution of dead tree newspapers and magazines. I stopped reading dead tree computer magazines when I realised that I was reading things on it that I had read on places like El Reg about 2 months ago.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          WH Smiths?

          "Would you like a chocolate bar for a pound? Would you like me to stuff your bag with 10 vouchers that you don't need?"

          Whenever I'm in there now they look and feel like they might go the way of Woolworths. Feels cheap, disorganised and the whole bar of chocolate + voucher thing doesn't add anything to the experience.

        3. Shonko Kid
          Gimp

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          "what do they actually sell that you can't get from a supermarket or Amazon or one of those cheap book outlets"

          Retro Gamer magazine. Smiths is the only regular stockist of it as far as I can tell, save from the odd Menzies/Maccoll supplied independent.

          I should really get a sub, but I enjoy the excitement of wandering into Smiths and seeing the latest issue on the shelf. Having it dumped on the doormat by the postie just isn't the same.

          1. The BigYin

            Re: It was only a matter of time

            "Retro Gamer magazine. "

            Tesco. I see it in there all the time.

            Ideally you should ask you local newsie to order it for you and buy it there. Support you local traders, they pay taxes (unlike the big boys).

            1. Shonko Kid
              Happy

              Re: It was only a matter of time

              "Tesco. I see it in there all the time."

              Wow, must be a regional thing then, I think I saw it in one of the massive Tesco stores once.

              "Ideally you should ask you local newsie to order it for you and buy it there"

              That's true :-) Use it or Lose it

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          My money's on WHSmiths being next

          The WHSmiths in my town is actually always jam packed and seems to be doing a roaring business.

          I mean, what do they actually sell that you can't get from a supermarket or Amazon

          I suspect you could say that about any shop and even Supermarkets & Amazon as they will eventually have to compete with each other.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It was only a matter of time

            "The WHSmiths in my town is actually always jam packed and seems to be doing a roaring business."

            It packed where I live too. The thing is that the local main post office has moved into the store and about 60-70% of the footfall goes directly in and out of the post office floorspace, and nowhere near Smiths tills.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          I think if I want a copy of a mag or paper to pass the time waiting on a station, even Amazon's delivery times aren't going to help me. Yeah, I could take out a subscription and read it on my ipad, but maybe I just want one copy to look at right now

        6. graeme leggett

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          They still have a lot of railway stations and motorway service stations stitched up.

        7. h3

          Re: It was only a matter of time

          WHSmiths are doing quite well. (Stations / Airports) and the fact they have turnover based rents for those shops.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was only a matter of time

        My money is on Admiral being next - Lloyds (IIRC) own about half of their company, they aren't going to want to stay invested in a pubco that long. Lloyds have just forced Admiral to re-value their pubs and I know for a fact that many of them will be coming in under the listed value Admiral have.

        In other news, I think they're scum and they've just run my local out of business because they can't see that practicaly bankrupting the landlord/landlady through beer tie is not a good thing to do on an otherwise profitable pub.

    3. the-it-slayer
      Unhappy

      Re: It was only a matter of time - poor customer service stinks for co's

      Unfortunately, illegal downloading and online/supermarket retailers are only part to blame for closures like HMV. The biggest reason is customer service and lack of innovation. Any shop that is surviving on the high street and doing "well" are the best at delivering what you want. Shops like HMV had the chance around the iPod revolution to buck up their ideas and offer downloads to customers where broadband hadn't quite taken off and they could afford faster DSL or T1 connections to sync a local cache of songs for MP3 players. Sort of booths that existed in the V Shop to browse songs across a whole range of genres, but added nothing else. Again, the innovation and lack of ambition cost them. Didn't HMV have an online MP3 store as well? Where did that go?

      To cram shops with endless CDs, DVDs and headphones was not going to sort the problems out. Downsizing, redesigning the stores and removing clutter would of given them a chance. Why have every CD out available when they could of been stored away if not in top 100 and then have a quick ordering service from a booth?

      I love the physicality of browsing shops and having CDs to hand. Big retailers like HMV have done nothing to reenforce that habit and defend its position. Obviously poisioned by another CEO from another failed company that just went under.

  3. dogged
    Unhappy

    Another place where you could actually browse effectively lost.

    :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      actually browse

      - if you were interested in looking at multiple copies of various top twenties. The magic of record shops fizzled out for me in the early 80s when shrinkwrapping and corporate stock control took over

      1. Chloe Cresswell

        Re: actually browse

        And could put up with the "music" on 11 blasting out.. I stopped going in when I couldn't think about what I was looking at.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And browsing was why they died, nobody actually bought anything!

      And if i hear one more comment about losing an institution I'll barf - Just like your local post office(s) it's a case of use it or lose it!

    3. BigAndos

      Not much to browse anymore..

      In this market the only way to survive is to differentiate. If you can compete on price, then differentiate with knowledge and selection.

      I go to Rough Trade in London regularly and it is always thriving. I can often beat their prices online, but the knowledgeable staff and good recommendations mean you can always find something interesting to buy.

      HMV used to be good to browse in, the one on Oxford Street still is. The smaller ones, not so. A while back, they removed pretty much all their music back catalogue and most of the DVD back catalogue in favour of selling gadgets. This meant that they offered the same selection of DVDs and CDs as Tesco but at worse prices. Their gadget selection was obviously more expensive than online, and was also limited in scope. Therefore, no reason to go for either market.

      1. BigAndos

        Re: Not much to browse anymore..

        That should say *can't compete on price*

    4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      You could browse, but they made paying difficult.

      I love browsing and used to buy a lot of CDs from HMV - the only record shop left in my town. A couple of years ago my local shop got rid of the information desk and made each till an information point - and the tellers were all groomed to ask "did you find everything you were looking for?". The result was that each till could be, and often was, taken up with someone "....looking for a DVD for my husband's birthday. It's got John Wayne in it and I think it's a western".

      After about the fifth time of standing in a long, stationary queue with a fistful of CDs while three tills were held up by people making queries I gave up with HMV. I mostly buy my CDs, DVDs (and vinyl!) online now and Amazon are happy to let me pay at any time night or day. I won't even go back to HMV for the fire sale because I know that woman will still be looking for the John Wayne film. Once you lose customers you lose them for good.

      1. auburnman

        Re: You could browse, but they made paying difficult.

        Not to mention loyalty cards and trying to upsell insurance on games/shite old DVD's at the counter. Just ring up what I want to buy and let me get on with my Saturday.

        I will be sad to see them go, but I won't pretend to scratch my head in puzzlement.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: You could browse, but they made paying difficult.

          HMV's £2.95 insurance against breaking headphones seemed reasonable, but now of course it won't be honoured. The lad who served me on a busy Sunday before Christmas seemed a sound individual - hope he and his colleagues do okay in 2013.

    5. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Another place where you could actually browse effectively lost.

      I vehemently disagree. My (past and recent) memories of HMV are disorganized tat warehouses, where you can browse all you like, it's just they've sold out of the thing you wanted to buy. Looking for someone in particular from a back catalogue? Good luck even finding the artist.

      We put up with this in the 90s, we'd pop along the high street, wandering between Woolworths, HMV and Virgin comparing prices, since usually at least two would be massively overpriced, and you'd hope that one of them was not.

      Most recently, I wanted some DVD box sets for Christmas presents - nothing rare, new releases like The Wire, The Killing, Breaking Bad etc. I popped into the HMV at Westfield Stratford - presumably their most recent store. It was tiny, so crammed with people that you couldn't effectively move around, and none of the DVDs I wanted. I spent 30 minutes trying to look for them, and 10 minutes waiting to talk to someone only to be told "If you can't find it, we probably don't have it".

      After that, I went home and did what I should have done in the first place - order it from Amazon. Services like Spotify mean I can browse and discover music on my phone whenever I choose, Amazon nearly always has the best price and everything in stock. Shops like HMV are an irrelevance that will disappear along with the box shifters like Currys and Best Buy.

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Amazon Outlet Stores?

    Maybe? Or just more £1 shops?

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Amazon Outlet Stores?

      I would like someone like John Lewis to take them over, make them proper gadget & media stores....

      I actually use john lewis to browse, then i buy from john lewis online or in store 90% the time I see something I like.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon Outlet Stores?

      actually, the pound shop in our street has a pretty good selection of cds.

  5. Cthonus
    Unhappy

    squaring the (vicious) circle

    Virgin & Amazon [et al] couldn't compete with the online retailers.

    Play.com etc had the Channel Islands VAT loophole closed on it so it couldn't discount by 17.5%.

    So we're left with the only "highstreet" presence being a supermarket bulk discounting the latest stock and with little or no back catalogue.

    And Amazon/Google, doing their utmost within the legal framework to avoid UK taxes.

    Depressing.

    1. Piro

      Re: squaring the (vicious) circle

      Play was a company started in Jersey, providing useful levels of employment in Jersey. With the loophole closed, they've left and may not be in a rosy situation.

      You could readily argue Play was a more innovative and deserving business model than anything like HMV.

      The high street became extremely stale, and never offered anything in the way of passion and customer service, so what's the point?

      Then, you have parking. Councils have shot themselves in the foot so hard it's unbelievable, by charging AT ALL for parking in town centres - most think "why bother?" when they could go to the out of town store, or sit on their arse at home and wait for it to come - or even buy the DVD or what-have-you in the supermarket when they next do their normal shopping..

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: squaring the (vicious) circle

        Play.com were still exploiting a loophole. Jersey was permitted to be VAT free on "low value" items so they could sell bundles of flowers and things like that on the mainland. Not for massive warehouses to set up shop, export goods *out* of the EU in bulk and them reimport them back *in* individually so they were considered "low value" and would not incur VAT.

        Certainly it was innovative, but it clearly it was also unfair that they could essentially discount by 20% (or pocket some of that) while domestic operators could not.

      2. John 62

        Re: squaring the (vicious) circle

        There are two approaches to rationing parking (which needs to be rationed as it is usually a limited resource):

        i) some councils don't charge for on-street parking (but do for large car parks), but limit parking to one hour or half an hour with no return for a set time (then fine, clamp, tow offenders).

        ii) charge a little bit for on-street parking and allow someone to park for as long as they are willing to pay.

        Rationing on-street parking is a good thing because it prevents people hogging spaces preventing people parking who just want to pop into a shop.

        1. Jusme

          Re: squaring the (vicious) circle

          iii) Provide adequate parking at a reasonable price, instead of closing off car parks and jacking up the price "to encourage use of alternative methods of transport."

          1. Neill Mitchell

            Re: squaring the (vicious) circle

            iv) Make a fast buck by selling off their car parks to one of these "Pay by phone" scalpers who then install APR and double the price.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Surprised it has lasted this long

    When the big chains moved into towns they used their buying power to aggressively undercut the smaller chains and indie record stores (which then nearly all shut down). One shop owner told me that the biggest problem was that Our Price (etc) could get huge reductions on the wholesale price that he simply couldn't negotiate.

    Once all the local competition was out of the way the chains raised their prices again and times were good. They had a monopoly. It wasn't so great for music lovers as the local indies staffed by music fas had all gone and you were left with the equivalent of a Tesco for music.

    Then along comes Amazon and their ilk that have broken that monopoly. IMO it's remarkable that they have lasted this long in the age of downloads + the fact you can order things online.

    So I cannot really get misty eyed about the loss of HMV. I can get misty eyed about all those small retailers who HMV and Our Price put out of business in the 1980's though. Although arguably many wouldn't have survived this far.

    1. The Godfather
      Pint

      Re: Surprised it has lasted this long

      Spot on Mr C Hill....

      Not surprisingly, there's more companies and business models out there running out of tarmac....

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Surprised it has lasted this long

      Yep, think about how many independent record shops there were on Park Street in Bristol alone, ten years back.

      And then there seemed to be a branch of Fopp on every street in the town... the indys went belly up, Fopp rationalised its stores down to one... ho hum.

  7. TonyJ Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sad, but...

    ...I was in our local HMV at the weekend with my eldest son and it was a mess. DVD's and CD's etc just piled in in no apparent order. No room to browse without blocking the aisles and prices that weren't even a little over the odds.

    Jessops - I enjoy photography as a bit of a hobby and last year I was after a lens for my Canon. Jessops wanted (online at this) £1,300 for a lens that Amazon wanted £600 for. Other online retailers were in the £700 bracket on average.

    Whilst I like to try and support our incumbent businesses they have, for too long, been their own worse enemy.

    Many times in our local Comet store (well I say many - the handful I visited) it could be almost impossible to grab the attention of a sales person.

    And of course, fundamentally, many of these companies just failed to respond to the online threat quickly enough.

    At the very least, they should have tried to emulate the PC World model of order online and collect from your local store.

    <Sigh>.

    1. Flawless101
      FAIL

      Re: Sad, but...

      Have to agree. HMV was always... different when it came to selling goods. You could walk in and find the same item at three different prices, and it was the sticker price that counted. My mind was blown that day.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Sad, but...

      "Jessops wanted (online at this) £1,300 for a lens that Amazon wanted £600 for. Other online retailers were in the £700 bracket on average."

      I wonder when all the high street competition is gone what will happen to online prices... hmm.... tricky one...

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Re: Sad, but...

        People will do what they did with Amazon - go to the cheapest supplier. If Amazon fails to be the cheapest, you go elsewhere.

        Not saying there couldn't be some collusion and price-fixing, but the thing about online sales is that you can't get EVERYONE to sign up to you. If some local guy selling WHATEVER out of his house has a good website and a reasonable price, I'll use him quite happily. In fact, sometimes even in preference to Amazon. I've bought car parts from such people rather than pay garage or online-spares prices (even on "spares price comparison" sites) and never had any real trouble.

        People care about receiving the product for a decent price. They're not particularly fussed about a 1-2 day delay (as evidenced by high-street deaths), so long as they get the product, don't get conned, and can find it quickly and easily on your site (and that your site pops up on Google, for instance). If every big-name online store shut down every bricks-n-mortar store, then doubled their prices, we wouldn't use them. It's even easier to move onto "guy who charges the original price, plus £1, to cover his website expenses" than it is to even walk to the shop next door.

        Online shopping wiped out the competition by being more convenient and cheaper. If they aren't more convenient (i.e. their prices are high and force you to check several sites for the best deal), and aren't cheaper, the same Darwinian selection will happen to them.

        Methinks the tax issues are more likely to raise online prices on Amazon than anything they do themselves.

      2. A n o n y m o u s

        Re: Sad, but...

        As long as there are multiple online retailers there will still be competition. Jessops were not competing with Amazon when Amazon were half the price.

      3. Peter 48

        Re: Sad, but...

        "I wonder when all the high street competition is gone what will happen to online prices... hmm.... tricky one..." - nothing really as they would still have to compete with other online retailers. The highstreet lost its role as setter of prices a long time ago.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sad, but...[Jessops vs Amazon]

      In total contrast to that, I bought a new Nikon D5100 (with 18-105 lens) in December. Compared loads of shops/sites etc and, unbelievably, Jessops were the cheapest - even cheaper than Amazon, Pixmania, etc

      I did find it funny when I went to pick it up though (I wanted to pick up from the store to check it was OK) - as the cost of a memory card was UNBELIEVABLE (£80+ for a 32G sansidks 45mb/s compared to the £20 I paid from Amazon) - I noticed that all of the accessories were twice (of not more) the price of other places. Somebody in Jessops management obviously thought it better to compete on cameras and then rake in the money over the accessories - shame that they didn't think people only go in to but a new camera once every few years so this is a limited market. Jessops will be a sad loss.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Sad, but...[Jessops vs Amazon]

        Well, its the same story in Currys and Maplins... £15 for a plain ol' USB A > B cable?

        1. rhydian

          @dave 126

          £15 is a lot for a cable, but try finding one anywhere else at 3pm on a sunday. It's the same way Halfords make their money.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re:try finding one anywhere else at 3pm on a sunday

            try the pound shop. where it costs, er, £1. Bit shorter than in maplins but works fine

            1. rhydian

              Re: Re:try finding one anywhere else at 3pm on a sunday

              The pound shop don't do hard drives, power supplies and other complex stuff to my knowledge. When I needed a physical copy of Win 7 *that day* it was easier to drive to PCW than try and find an ISO/Download online.

    4. Tom 260

      Re: Sad, but...

      "Jessops - I enjoy photography as a bit of a hobby and last year I was after a lens for my Canon. Jessops wanted (online at this) £1,300 for a lens that Amazon wanted £600 for. Other online retailers were in the £700 bracket on average."

      Jessops are about the only dinosaur in the photography world, as asides from Amazon and a few others trying to bite at the pie, most of the companies are small independent shops that offered mail order, and then moved into the internet at the right time (and the right price). Meanwhile Jessops thought they could still sell everything for maybe £30 off the list price, when everywhere else was >£100 discount - if they even got it in stock, I had a lens on order from them ages ago (in a high street branch), they never got any stock of it, nor did they even seem to know that it had been out for a month by the time I cancelled and ordered elsewhere.

  8. Piro

    Amazon is not evil

    Just before this turns into a mess of the same comments as were on the BBC site - Amazon is not some evil entity - imagine how many small businesses in the UK still exist because of Amazon marketplace - where it's as easy to buy from a random business as it is from Amazon themselves and not notice it - many of whom have EXCELLENT service (I purchased an 8-port HP gigabit switch, on free delivery.. and it came the next day - this was NOT Amazon, it was from a small UK retailer you'd otherwise never hear of).

    Amazon provides these small businesses with a way to reach a huge audience.

    HMV is not, and will never be, a "local business". It is in no way independent or special in some way. Just another big national chain with an incompetent few skimming off their collection of pennies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Amazon is not evil

      Very good point. Many of the more obscure DVD's I've purchased have come from Amazon marketplace (I guess many people wouldn't even realise). Although I do hope Amazon don't abuse the fees structure in the same way Ebay do.

    2. boltar Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Amazon is not evil

      "Amazon provides these small businesses with a way to reach a huge audience."

      'The web provides these small businesses with a way to reach a huge audience.'

      There, FTFY.

      If you seriously believe that amazon provides a service that the rest of the internet doesn't then either you work for the company of you've got its Kool Aid on an intrevenous drip.

      As for amazon not being evil , no it isn't, but it is a highly competetive foreign company that has no problem with selling popular CDs, DVDs and books products at cost price or even a loss specifically to capture market share from other retailers and eventually lead them to go bust.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Piro

        Re: Amazon is not evil

        Sorry, but the web does not provide a guaranteed audience - the idea that you can just put up a website and hope your business will be immediately noticed is not really true:- The web is absolutely full of noise, and people like to check retailers they already feel comfortable with.

        Yes, of course it's possible to survive without the help of other businesses, naturally, but clearly these businesses feel Amazon is helping them, otherwise they wouldn't trade with them. It's more than possible that a satisfied customer would deal with the company directly later.

        No, I don't work for them, no, I don't believe they're providing a service that couldn't otherwise exist. I'm simply pointing out that "Amazon" isn't just one American monolith, putting everyone in the UK out of business - which seems to be the opinion of the masses.

        1. boltar Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Amazon is not evil

          "the idea that you can just put up a website and hope your business will be immediately noticed is not really true:-"

          Hmm, odd, it seems to have work for amazon.

          Sure, it won't get noticed immediately but thats why getting yourself into a good position on a search engine is paramount and if you're in a niche industry then that shouldn't be too hard as there won't be much competition.

          1. lset
            FAIL

            Re: Amazon is not evil

            You can buy a decent position on a search engine.

            You can't buy trust.

            People are happier to buy items from a smaller retailer through the Amazon marketplace because they trust the feedback system on Amazon and how the marketplace is vetted. This is the same reason why places like ebay and etsy exist. People trust the Amazon 'brand' and so trust to buy things through their marketplace. People should set up their own websites etc. but to say that Amazon doesn't offer a service that the internet in and of itself doesn't already provide is incorrect.

      3. Greg J Preece

        Re: Amazon is not evil

        If you seriously believe that amazon provides a service that the rest of the internet doesn't then either you work for the company of you've got its Kool Aid on an intrevenous drip.

        And the chances of your tiny company managing to get above Amazon in the product rankings on Google to get the attention in the first place? Amazon lets them be a searchable part of what is undoubtedly one of the largest product catalogues online. Set up your own tiny website with OSCommerce (because all small businesses know how to do that and can afford it) and see if you can get those customers as easily.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Amazon is not evil

        As a seller on Amazon, I disagree with you, while I set up my own website, Amazon is where over 70% of my business came from, because people go there to FIND things, and they trust buying via amazon...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon is not evil

      Amazon is not evil currently.

      However, now it appears they're going to have a complete monopoly on physical sales of non-chart music/films, then what is going to stop them squeezing either the music industry or consumers who still want that physical media?

      Amazon could easily become evil.

  9. Greg J Preece

    HMV was too expensive to survive. Everyone knows this. Online ordering might be cheaper, sure, but when the series I want is £8 online and £30 in your store, I'm not going to buy from you. No-one in their right mind is.

    1. Jedit
      Holmes

      "HMV was too expensive to survive"

      Honestly, there is no need for further analysis beyond this. HMV have been selling their core products - CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays - at RRP. That's rendered them uncompetitive not only with online retailers but with every other remaining physical retailer as well. I could walk into my local independent music store and get The Wall Immersion Edition for £99 if I wanted it, while 100 yards away HMV are still asking the full £120.

      When a chain store isn't able to compete on price with a single-outlet small business in the same town, you know there is mismanagement at work.

      1. Keep Refrigerated

        Re: "HMV was too expensive to survive"

        I saw the writing on the wall 10 years ago, in fact my only surprise is that they've lasted so long. I was just in a HMV the other day (browsing only) with the OH and remarked "These guys will be the next to go..."

        I gave up on HMV (at that time) when I wanted an old TV series box set priced at £19.99. Since it was near Christmas I thought I'd wait for the sales. Said sales came and a new sticker was on the box "RRP £39.99 / Sale: £19.99". I cannot stand deceptive marketing and would prefer they just didn't call it a "Sale" at all.

  10. Wibble
    Unhappy

    Their market just isn't there...

    An old-(business)-school SWOT test would show that there's very few Opportunities on the high street as the Tech has moved on. Alas the days of browsing in the crusty old record shop for some gem has well and truly gone. People download now and massive conglomerates (Amazon) or specialists deliver physical media.

    People just don't buy albums any more. A store full of chart-bound shite just isn't interesting, especially as the price reflects the higher costs of providing the retail space.

    Sad that the management team didn't embrace the web much earlier; in essence that's what did them in the end.

    1. Brian Morrison
      Thumb Down

      Re: Their market just isn't there...

      "People just don't buy albums any more"

      Hmm, I'd have to disagree. I buy nothing else, and my kids tend to buy albums too, even if that is often using iTunes.

    2. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Their market just isn't there...

      "People just don't buy albums any more"

      Speak for yourself.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Their market just isn't there...

        But have you re-bought all your old albums again on SACD, Minidisc, blu-Ray, UMD, and MP3?

        If you don't keep paying 20quid again for DarkSide every 5 years how is the music business going to stay in business

  11. Phil E Succour
    Unhappy

    What a shame

    I feel for the employees whose jobs are under threat from this development, I hope they are able to find new work.

    Sadly though the writing has been on the wall for some time. High street retailers who concentrate on one are of the market like HMV and Jessops have really had the rug pulled from under their feet over the past few years. Locked into long leases on some of the stores with no flexibility when times are hard has meant they are just not agile enough.

    The strongest high street retailers seem to be those who have product lines crossing many categories such as department stores - perhaps that model is the best hope for the future?

    1. David Evans

      Re: What a shame

      "The strongest high street retailers seem to be those who have product lines crossing many categories such as department stores - perhaps that model is the best hope for the future?"

      This has been the received wisdom amongst corporate strategy people for at least a decade; you can only survive as a specialist retailer if you have unique product not available elsewhere; if you sell a commodity you can't cross-subsidise margins so you've got nowhere to go when a multi-category retailer undercuts you (Amazon and Tesco work on single digit margins so can take the hit that a specialist can't). Problem is that with the rise of Amazon, more and more products become commodities even when they might not have been in the past (which is why some premium brands will only sell through their own channels), good for customer value, but maybe not so good for the retail "ecosystem".

      We're heading for an age of much reduced choice in retail (which in the long run hurts the department stores as well; fewer reasons to go to the high street), and unless landlords have a major rethink about rents, whole categories of products are going to disappear from the high street altogether; in fact it may be too late even if there is a big rent correction.

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: What a shame

      A commentator on the radio said that chains like HMV, JJ Sports, Comet gave a chance at employment experience in retail for those who didn't come out of school with high grades or go on to university.

      One advantage that independent department stores may have is that being long established businesses they own the premises and therefore lease/rent on the shopfloor is effectively just internal accounting rather than a drain on the income

  12. wowfood

    the digital era

    I remember manymoons ago when I was but a teen, (a decade) when out local town was bustling, we had a music store, DVD store, PC store, game, gamestation. Now all that's left is one game store, why?

    Because the highstreet can't keep up with digital. Years ago we had no choice, DVDs all cost £20 everywhere, an album cost just as much same for a game.

    Nowadays rather than paying £20 for an album you can download it on itunes, or better yet rather than paying extra for filler songs nobody lieks you can buy the individual tracks you want. There aren't any portable CD players, and most people seem to backup their CDs to the PC anyway, CDs are a dying medium they've gone the way of the casette.

    DVDs are in a similar fold, why spend £20 for a brand new DVD when you can get it for £15 online, or better still rent it from lovefilm for free (well £5 a month) lets face it, most people buy DVDs and watch them once or twice, lovefilm is a far better option in terms of price / what you get.

    Videogames are the same, £50 rrp for a brand new game, you can get that same game online for £40, or you can rent it for the cost of £5 a month with lovefilm.

    I don't think it's so much that these businesses are being wiped out by e-tailers. It's more that they haven't kept up with the times. HMV was doing the equivalent of selling casettes and VHS at above average prices, of course it died out. They failed to keep up with the trends and it shot them in the foot.

    I just wish we got better stores to replace the ones we lost. My town center is now a mixture of clothes stores, cafes, 2nd hand shops and mobile phone stores. Nothing else. I no longer have any reason to go into town, we have nothing I want to buy. Sure I need clothes, but every clothes store in town bar 2 sell only womens clothes, the other 2 are burtons and peacocks.

    We're living in a digital era, and almost every digital item will wind up being distributed online. What towns need are smaller independant specialty stores, music, electronics, things you really want to have a look around yourself and find what's right for you. But these stores aren't constant earners, they're normally either trickle sales or big sales every few months. And thanks to the boom of retail stores last decade, and the rise of property values you can't leasea shop and hope to turn a profit these days.

    Alas, this has turned into a rant but I'll post it anyway, sad to see HMV go, but not unexpected. I see PC world following in the next year or so.

    1. This Side Up
      FAIL

      Re: the digital era

      The digital era began in the early 80s as far as audio was concerned. The problem with HMV, Virgin/Xavvi and others was that they continued to run large stores with thousands of prepackaged CDs and DVDs. They should have slimmed down. The technology was there to burn discs on demand and print the artwork. They could have provided downloads to customers' iPods, flash drives, memory cards etc. Browsing could be done using screens with search and sampling facilities. You could even have had "make your own album". All this would take up a tenth of the space and eliminate most of the warehousing and transport costs - they would only need blank media.

      1. Ben 56
        Megaphone

        Re: the digital era

        WHSmith did this for many years in the late 80s early 90s - the system was called EDOS and you chose from a (regularly published in-store) catalogue the game you wanted, on Amiga, Atari, C64 Spectrum, disks or tapes it didn't matter. There was a big duplicator machine in the back that would have all of these games on a CD it used to burn from. Obviously it never took off and the material looks a lot like pirate blanks (albeit with an official box). Obviously there would be even less differentiation these days!

        Here's the best article I could find on EDOS, sadly there isn't too much info on the (once reasonably popular) system.

        http://forum.defence-force.org/viewtopic.php?t=815&p=7319

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: the digital era

        I worked for Virgin and they *did* offer close to what you're suggesting, as far back as 2000 / 2001.

        I worked for V Shop, which was essentially the Our Price relaunch with the digital generation in mind. Virgin saw it coming right then. There were at least two touch-screen two kiosks in each store, that had two functions:

        1) Allow purchase and download of MP3s that could be transferred to a USB drive you could plug right in

        2) Order any back catalogue title (DVD, CD, VHS) and have it posted to you. It was essentially online shopping with hand-holding in an age when a lot of customers were really unsure about it. The approach was strategic too, as it was their answer to cutting down on catalogue stock in-store - something HMV would go on to remove and pad out with gadgets.

        One of the reasons I was employed was because no-one really even had the foggiest what an MP3 was, let alone how one might use it.

        The problem? It was too much for a lot of consumer's minds back then. Just wasn't in the air. While the kiosk back catalogue ordering did well, the MP3 downloads - never sold a single one. MP3 players went unsold and it wasn't for want of trying or lack of sales support. Consumers just couldn't get their heads around music downloads - remember, this was in the days of the Creative Jukebox and Rio players, which were essentially the preserve of the tech-savvy and definitely not mass-market in the way fruit-derived devices are now.

        You're right - I believe HMV should have offered these services. But I do wonder if the relative failure of the V Shop concept troubled them - I can't believe they weren't watching us at the time.

        I firmly believe the concept wasn't the problem - it was the timing. However, when just about everyone got broadband in tandem with the availability of iTunes, et al, the in-store download concept would have withered on the vine as well.

    2. I like noodles
      FAIL

      Re: the digital era

      "better yet rather than paying extra for filler songs nobody lieks you can buy the individual tracks you want"

      Therein lies something that saddens me - one of the problems of being able to pick and choose your download tracks.

      Very often (in fact, more often than not), I grow tired of the "individual tracks I want" pretty quickly, and grow to develop a long-term love for some of those "extra filler songs nobody likes"

      Added to that, a decent band with a good producer can get "flow" into an album that simply doesn't exist when tracks are ommitted (or it's on shuffle)

      I'm sure I can't be alone in this.

      Off on a tangent I know, so to add something on HMV - not that sad to see them go really. Overpriced and destroyed my local record shops. Biter bit, although I empathise with the staff right now.

      1. Kirk Northrop
        Happy

        Re: the digital era

        You're not the only one, no. I very rarely listen to albums on shuffle, the flow of an album really is something that a lot of casual music listeners miss.

        1. wowfood

          Re: the digital era

          The only time I've ever had albums with flow to them thathas been recongizable is metal. When I was refering to the lack of worthwhile tracks I was talking about the pop / rap / dubstep rubbish, there's often one or two tracks I might like, but the rest are just tat. (my opinion here, not fact)

          1. John Sanders
            Unhappy

            Re: the digital era

            Recording companies and their made-up 'hits' killed the albums.

            Recording companies began favouring the idea of predictable incomes, (increased spending on marketing and manufactured 'artists') rather than spending money on producing decent albums with unpredictable risky income behaviour. We invest 10 million to bag 50 million.

            This obviously forces them to publish music based on how wider an audience can be for that type of music, regarding of the quality, so they can maximize profit.

            In my case that is why the only music I buy lately is Soundtracks from video games and movies.

        2. What of IT?

          Re: the digital era

          Agreed, try listening to any Pink Floyd album on shuffle and it totally ruins it. These albums and many more by other great artists tell a story. Some newer artists employ this tactic too, but it goes to waste on the shuffle brigade most of the time.... Shuffle is for those who love NOW albums.

          Sad to see HMV go, but it was a bit shit in my opinion and has been for at least 10 years. Last good record shop I went in was Syd Scarborough under Hull City Hall, now that was a sweet experience in the basement flicking through old vinyl! You can't hit shuffle when an LP is playing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the digital era

        Added to that, a decent band with a good producer can get "flow" into an album that simply doesn't exist when tracks are ommitted (or it's on shuffle)

        Totally agree with this - sadly, the vast majority of "modern" music isnt produced with this in mind.

        Rather than go to the cost and trouble of getting a good producer to make an album that is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish, it seems a lot of music has become a simple collection of tracks with no consistency between each one - designed to be bought individually or played on shuffle.

        Madness like this is, unfortunately, driven by the customer allowing it.

    3. 0laf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: the digital era

      +1 on the blokes clothes. Bloody nightmare to find anything. Plenty of wimmins shops. Work clothes being a particular pain and only Primark, Matalan and the supermarkets stocking near me.

  13. Andrew Moore
    Thumb Down

    Was in before Christmas...

    Their prices were terrible. I was able to buy one item a lot cheaper from another bricks-and-mortar store that was on the same floor of the mall as HMV. I also tried to find (and failed) a CD (Oblivion by Grimes if you are interested). I gave up and bought it on play.com instead.

    I'm all for supporting traditional shops, but not when they want to stick a saddle on you and ride you around the store.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Was in before Christmas...

      Indeed. On the tablets and technology bit - when I dropped into HMV before Christmas and noted the line of Windows 7 PCs on display without a Windows 8 in sight, it was clear, like Comet, the writing was on the wall.

  14. ukgnome
    FAIL

    If only they listened to the consumer

    Although they probably couldn't hear them and "youth" music was always blaring out. And as for the layout, what a load of tosh.

    It is no loss to me that this store has gone under, it was hard to tell what the customer demographic was. Was it for the youth that had no expendable income or was it for the 40 somethings? I suspect they wanted to be all things to all men but had some seriously bad advice.

  15. Richard Wharram

    Browsing

    The USP HMV had over supermarkets and the like was a large back-catalogue to browse through. Unfortunately that's been completely undermined by online retailers where you don't have to browse, you can search. From home.

    A pincer movement of market developments has left HMV with nothing to offer.

  16. Jason Hindle

    And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

    Bankruptcy law really needs shaking up with respect to gift cards and pre ordered items. This is money already spent with the company and it should be possible to exchange it for goods of the same value.

    With Jessops in particular, I'm hearing stories of people turning up to collect pre ordered (and pre paid for goods) only to be told to sod off, even when the goods had been delivered to the premises. It's all pretty shoddy, especially when you consider both HMV and Jessops were selling gift vouchers pretty much up to the point they called in the administrators.

    1. Piro

      Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

      To be fair, gift vouchers are a stupid idea anyway - a way of being an investor with no return and no guarantee on the value of the card.

      Basically a massive con foisted on the public by the shops as a way to pad their coffers to provide bigger profit reports at certain times of year - somehow they've convinced people that giving each other a potentially worthless piece of paper is more acceptable than just giving them the money instead.

    2. wowfood

      Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

      Y'see that's the point I'd just sit in the store, with my recipt that's been paid for and threaten to call in the police if they don't hand over MY goods. They're paid for. I don't care if legally they don't need to hand them over, I'll be that douche who refuses to leave the premisis until I get the item, or get dragged off by the police.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

        Legally once the warehouse man (or woman) goes to the shelf with the picklist (it might be on a handheld computer, doesn't matter) and lifts the goods of the shelf, they are legally yours and they must give your them. If they have not been picked off the shelf when they go bust, then they are not yours, and they don't have to give you them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

          Legally once the warehouse man (or woman) goes to the shelf with the picklist (it might be on a handheld computer, doesn't matter) and lifts the goods of the shelf, they are legally yours and they must give your them.

          Are you sure about this? I cant seem to find it in the Sale of Goods act?

          Purchase transactions are rarely as clearly cut as you make out here.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

      At least the administrators will get their cut as usual

      1. Ed 11

        Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

        In their defense, I can't think of many people who will do their job without being paid.

        1. ChrisC

          Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

          True, but as a former employee of a small company (8 full time employees) which went into administration 3 years ago, and for which the administrative process continues to plod along at a pace so slow it would be insulting to glaciers to describe it as glacial, I do have to wonder just how much value for money the creditors get out of administrators. Especially when you read the annual reports they send out, do the sums on the outstanding assets vs administrator expenses, and realise that by the time the whole process is concluded, the only people who'll have got anywhere near what they're owed are the administrators themselves...

    4. MrXavia

      Re: And once again, gift cards are not being honoured

      One of the reasons to always use a Credit Card for purchases...

      At least you have some protection...

  17. qwarty

    Rents and rates

    Its surprising we have any high street shops left with the high rents and and the ludicrous business rates charged by successive governments hell-bent on killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    1. dogged

      Re: Rents and rates

      Agreed.

      Why are so many high streets infested with pestilential charity shops?

      Because they don't pay the Business Rates which are killing everyone else.

      Pretty soon, those are all we'll have left. Well, that and Greggs.

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Rents and rates

        Even Greggs bailed out where I am due to the high street rates.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rents and rates

          Subway tried to muscle in here which I thought would spell disaster for the superb local baker (part of a small chain).

          Subway gave up after a year. Nobody wanted their processed crap and everyone still got their sandwiches from the bakers. For once quality won.

          1. wowfood

            Re: Rents and rates

            We have 2 subwys now, which is hilarious since you can walk from one to the other in less than 20 minutes (town is tiny) sad part is with have 2 delis, and they make amazing sandwiches. But they're both in dead zones. One is in a backstreet most people don't even know about, and the other is next to a shopping center which is all but dead. Why don't they move to the highstreet? Too expensive, but subwey can afford it since they sell crap at moderate prices. rather than these two which sell quality at moderate prices.

            On the bright side though, the local butcher started selling burgers / hotdogs / bacon rolls using all local produce, and we now have a burger resteraunt open up which also uses only local produce. I just hope the trend continues.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rents and rates

        The charity shops are also staffed by volunteers rather than working people on lower wages who pay more in national insurance tax than income tax (a fact politicians like to keep quiet).

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Rents and rates

      It's more to do what they sell - consumer goods and media.

      Someone can go into HMV, suss out the price of a movie or CD and look it up and see the difference for the identical product. They could even be stood right there in the store and looking up the price on their phone. HMV added absolutely no value of their own to the shopping experience and indeed most people could attest to the fact they hardly went out of their way to offer bargains in the first place.

      The stores that will survive on the highstreet are those which are resistant to the internet to some degree - shoe / clothes shops, pound lands, supermarkets, chemists, upmarket jewellers (not necessary the downmarket ones), furniture stores, appliance stores, bars, restaurants, hairdressers etc.

      1. MrXavia

        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....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      High Street

      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."

  18. DavCrav Silver badge

    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!

  19. Ian 62

    Highstreet Showrooms

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

  20. TheBully

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I went in HMV last year

      If by 'computer exchange' you mean CeX it actually means 'Complete Entertainment Exchange' afaik.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Flame

        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.

        1. David Evans

          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.

  21. 0laf Silver badge
    Angel

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

  22. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    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.

    1. Amonynous

      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.

    2. DuncanL
      Joke

      Went in there before Christmas with the girlfriend. Walked out empty-handed.

      Hope you got a good trade in rate for the girlfriend...

  23. theopriestley
    FAIL

    It's all your fault

    Read this online this morning, The High Street is dead and it's all your fault. Made me laugh.

    http://bpmredux.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/the-high-street-is-dead-and-its-all-your-fault/

  24. PaulyV

    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.

    Probably not.

    1. Amonynous

      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.

    2. MrXavia

      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.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Town and city centres

        @MrXavia

        "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.

  25. Matt W

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      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.

  26. Zog The Undeniable

    Trevor Moore

    Must have the inverse Midas touch; everything he touches turns to something brown and squishy. I bet he got paid well, thobuts.

    1. Arbuthnot Darjeeling

      Re: Trevor Moore

      Jessops, HMV, who's next for his magic?

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Trevor Moore

        He was at Comet before those two ...

  27. A n o n y m o u s

    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.

  28. Madboater

    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.

    1. A n o n y m o u s

      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?

      1. Madboater

        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.

  29. A n o n y m o u s

    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.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. jb99

    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

  32. adam payne Silver badge

    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.

    1. A n o n y m o u s

      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 ;-)

  33. Allan 1
    Meh

    Not suprised

    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.

  34. Simon B
    Mushroom

    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

    1. JDX Gold badge

      They STOLE my money for sure - all I got in return was a box with a shiny silver disc in it.

      Oh wait....

  35. Lone Gunman

    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.

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    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.

  37. john 103
    FAIL

    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.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      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.

      1. john 103
        Happy

        Re: Problem with Online Ordering (Amazon)

        Ha Ha- your comment made me laugh - Have an upvote Sir.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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

  38. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lost too many great companies

      'great' ?

      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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, this is sad.

      Great companies - Jessops, Comet, JJB, Blacks - really... they were dinosaurs.

  39. regprentice

    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.

  40. Dave Gomm

    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.

  41. RonWheeler
    Meh

    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.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

  43. Oldfogey

    Flawed business model.

    Last year I said HMV were on their way out. Put simply, they had a high street business, which made huge losses. And they had a live music business which made a decent profit. The first was in a dying market, the second was in a thriving market.

    So they sold the profitable, growing, live music biz, in order to prop up the dying retail music biz.

    Idiots. If they had dumped the shops and kept live music they would be prospering now. Though I don't think that they had really cracked it in live music. Something that is possible, has been done at small venues, but could be a killer for big bands, is to sell a recording of the concert you have just heard, the actual concert, not just the songs, as you leave the venue. I think fans would go mad for that.

    Ah well, I will just go on buying CD's & DVD's from the charity shops, car boots and ebay, where people who have ripped them to their ipods sell them off - at least till their hard disk crashes and they don't, of course, have a backup.

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