Last shop on the High Street

3 Stars

HMV is going into administration here in the UK for the second time in 6 years.

This is/was the last dedicated physical media store on our high street and shows how the pressure of streaming and downloads has hit home. Admittedly, there are other pressure for us too – all high streets stores have been struggling with people having less money in their pockets, the rise of online sales and the uncertainty over Brexit.

Nevertheless, this is a sad day.

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Kevin Collins

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21 Comments

  1. This has come as a big shock and it makes me feel very sad. I really thought they'd turned a corner and I've been a very happy and regular customer for records and Blu-Ray (both online and in-store). I even posted in the Amazon thread here a few weeks ago singing their praises.

    Totally gutted.

  2. I guess it was inevitable.
    Some years ago they had 400 outlets – now about 120.
    So in order for them to survive (i.e. reduce number of stores, for varied and I am sure valid reasons 5 years ago), they have made it more difficult for potential customers to buy from their stores – the one closest to me (6 miles away) has closed. So this inevitably pushes more business online – I can press a few buttons and get product delivered to my door.
    One final thought – I was in Southampton (on the south coast in the UK) on the Friday before Christmas – whilst the bars and restaurants were heaving with customers, the shops looked decidedly lonely.

  3. Unfortunate, but I hope they can hang on another while.

    This will hit some of those wonderful niche labels like Eureka, Arrow and Indicator. I hope HMV have been uptodate in their payments.

    The nearest HMV to me is several hours drive, so I'd only tend to drop in if I was in that part of the country, the last such occasion was November. I ended up getting a huge stack of discs. They do exclusive slipcases of a lot of Warner Archive titles which were reasonably priced and are nice to have.

    I like to support retail where available, and it's something I enjoy while it lasts.

  4. A lot of longtime B&M retailers are in trouble. In the U.S., Sears (founded 1893) and Kmart (founded 1899) chains are both on the verge of liquidation. At one time, they were the #1 and #2 retailers in the country, but have been trounced by Walmart, Target, and online shopping (and corporate mismanagement to an extent). JC Penney (founded 1902) is also in deep trouble.

    The U.S. has no more national chains dedicated to movies/music media. The last of these, FYE, has so few locations now that I don't really consider them a national chain, and more stores close every few months. They've also expanded to more pop culture merchandise, rather than media.

    It's mostly the regional chains and local independents now, such as Bull Moose, Newbury Comics, and other local shops, if you have them.

  5. This has already happened with HMV in canada, which closed down all their retail stores in early 2017.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMV_Canada
    https://business.financialpost.com/news/retail-marketing/hmv-canada-to-close-all-102-stores

    A different record store chain Sunrise Records moved into some of the vacated HMV storefronts. If I had to guess, the only difference between HMV and Sunrise was that Sunrise is not saddled with huge debts (yet).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunrise_Records_(retailer)

  6. Interdimensional

    This will hit some of those wonderful niche labels like Eureka, Arrow and Indicator. I hope HMV have been uptodate in their payments.

    The good news is that they have their own sites where you can buy from them directly. I wouldn't even know they existed if it wasn't for HMV so there is a potential market loss there but I think they'll survive.

    Hilco have done everything right so there is no reason to think they won't honour their financial commitments. This is a reputable company not the guy who ran BHS into the ground.

  7. Just been in to our local one here in Darlington and it was quite busy 🙂
    Bought a couple of HMV exclusive 'premium collection' Blu rays in the 'two for £15' sale – Clockwork Orange and The Shining (after my viewing of 'Filmworker' over Christmas)

    https://www.hometheaterforum.com/co…ung-assistant-dvd-review.358968/#post-4686762

    Although I can't redeem my loyalty points, they have credited me with today's purchases..

    Fingers crossed that a buyer will be found. The press seems to suggest it is a major fall in music sales that has caused the problem (I thought vinyl was doing ok?)
    We wait and see.

  8. Nick Eden

    I guess it was inevitable.
    Some years ago they had 400 outlets – now about 120.
    So in order for them to survive (i.e. reduce number of stores, for varied and I am sure valid reasons 5 years ago), they have made it more difficult for potential customers to buy from their stores – the one closest to me (6 miles away) has closed. So this inevitably pushes more business online – I can press a few buttons and get product delivered to my door.
    One final thought – I was in Southampton (on the south coast in the UK) on the Friday before Christmas – whilst the bars and restaurants were heaving with customers, the shops looked decidedly lonely.

    The big reduction in the number of outlets when HMV were last in trouble hit London badly (high rents I suppose). I used to be just a 20 minute walk from an HMV store and there were several others not far away but now I have an hour's journey into central London and then out again. It becomes a vicious circle of more closures equaling less opportunity to shop in those that remain. And yet, the ones I do visit are always busy. It doesn't make sense. I will be devastated if they close completely. It's far more enjoyable to shop in store than on line.

  9. KeithDA

    Bought a couple of HMV exclusive 'premium collection' Blu rays in the 'two for £15' sale – Clockwork Orange and The Shining (after my viewing of 'Filmworker' over Christmas)

    They do a complete(ish) Kubrick set on Blu-Ray for £25 (contains Lolita, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut and a two hour documentary about Stanley Kubrick).

    This set was released on VHS back in the late 90s/early 00s and retailed for over £100 so at £25 it's a steal.

    I believe the premium Shining comes with the full length US version and if you haven't seen that you're in for a treat.

  10. This is sad, but expected, news. I don't know how much longer any retailer that makes its business primarily in physical media can last in an era where the vast majority of consumers no longer wish to consume media on a physical object.

    Those of us that participate on forums like this are not in the majority, and may represent just a small portion of an already small minority.

    In 2018 and beyond, most people do not want to purchase a physical item when they want to watch a movie. I'm just not sure how a retail industry built on selling physical items can adapt to that reality. How do you convince people to leave their houses, get into a car/bus/train, go to a location, hope that location has the item they want, pay for the item, get back into car/bus/trail, return home, when people can simply press a button on their TV and get access to the movie they want to watch without doing any of that and for less money than the cost of the physical item?

    Music is an even harder sell. How do you convince people to go out and spend money on a physical object that contains a handful of songs for an inflated price, that plays on CD drives (which are no longer included in many computers and cars), when the same customers can either listen to the album for free on an ad-supported streaming service, or pay a small monthly fee to listen to just about every album ever recorded?

    I feel for the employees of these stores who are losing jobs, and I feel for fans of physical media who collect these objects. I was an employee of a store that sold physical media for a long time, and I've collected physical media since I was a baby. It's been a lifelong passion and will remain so until the end comes. But it's no longer the way that the average consumer wants to consume media, and neither the retail stores nor the physical formats themselves can survive longterm if the audience has moved on to cheaper and arguably more efficient ways of consuming media.

  11. KeithDA

    The press seems to suggest it is a major fall in music sales that has caused the problem (I thought vinyl was doing ok?)
    We wait and see.

    I think one of the things that's hurt HMV there is the rise of independent record stores (there are 8 in my local area) and they all have specialist knowledge and genre range that HMV can't compete with. And, it's a situation that's got worse from HMV's point of view since the indie stores started to get their own exclusive releases.

    The only way HMV is able to get an advantage is by discounting popular hits and selling cheap turntables to get newbies into the hobby which backfires when the newbies realise how bad those TTs are (I bought my first TT from HMV and I don't blame them but most people will).

    There is a toxic hatred online for the £50 TTs and anyone who associates with them (let alone sells them) is asking for trouble.

  12. I'm sure there will always be a place for physical media. It's simply that it is moving from less of a mass market. About 10 years ago Kindle was talked of as if it would lead to the demise of books but Kindle devices have reached saturation point of those people who want e-readers. Books are still thriving. People like the feel of, and owning, the physical product.

  13. Douglas R

    I'm sure there will always be a place for physical media. It's simply that it is moving from less of a mass market. About 10 years ago Kindle was talked of as if it would lead to the demise of books but Kindle devices have reached saturation point of those people who want e-readers. Books are still thriving. People like the feel of, and owning, the physical product.

    I hope that remains the case, but I'm not sure if that will be true long term. Or if it does remain true, it may be that the physical options are severely restricted compared to the digital one. That's already happening today. For instance, in the US at least, many TV shows which are broadcast in HD are released on disc in DVD only, but are available in their full HD resolution via a variety of different streaming services. That may be the way forward, where the physical release is the "lowest common denominator" but anything more advanced will be digital only.

    We're also seeing when it comes to music releases that often the physical release is bare-bones, while the digital release can carry extra material. If you buy a new release CD, you might just get the main songs on the album, but if you buy that album on a digital service, you'll also get bonus tracks and a download of related music videos.

  14. KeithDA

    HMV is going into administration here in the UK for the second time in 6 years.

    This is/was the last dedicated physical media store on our high street and shows how the pressure of streaming and downloads has hit home. Admittedly, there are other pressure for us too – all high streets stores have been struggling with people having less money in their pockets, the rise of online sales and the uncertainty over Brexit.

    Nevertheless, this is a sad day.

    Don't know where exactly you are over there but last time I was in London I used to frequent a shop called Fopp. There was another too that I would stop by but I can't recall the name of it at the moment.

    https://www.fopp.com/

  15. Douglas R

    I'm sure there will always be a place for physical media. It's simply that it is moving from less of a mass market. About 10 years ago Kindle was talked of as if it would lead to the demise of books but Kindle devices have reached saturation point of those people who want e-readers. Books are still thriving. People like the feel of, and owning, the physical product.

    I agree to an extent. Physical books are seemingly quite popular if Costco can be seen as an indicator. For Christmas, my store had an entire aisle of book selections that ran across half the warehouse, and outside the holidays they still have quite a large selection of books. Also, it will be interesting if books remain popular enough to allow Barnes & Noble to remain in business. They seemed to be struggling in years past, but I haven't heard much recently about their business position.

    Also, the blu/DVD selection at Costco for Christmas consisted of a very small selection of Disney titles and one or two new releases (such as Crazy Rich Asians). In years past, they would bring in all sorts of deluxe sets and catalog titles. They have not done this for the past two holiday seasons.

    So, for the moment anyway, the popularity of physical books seems to be higher than physical movie discs which seem to be fading away faster than books. Probably because it's easier to make a couple clicks on your smart device to sit and watch a film, than to download an eBook, carry your eReader with you, and make sure it's constantly charged (not to mention finding the right light that doesn't cause headache-inducing glare).

  16. To add to what I was saying earlier, I think we'll see physical media survive for at least a short while for the most popular titles (whether it's books, music or movies) in their initial release, but it will be increasingly difficult for stores to be in the catalog business. That's an area where it's really difficult to compete with online retailers and digital downloads.

    With how much it costs to rent a store and keep it stocked, there's probably very little profit in trying to stock everything. You have to guess what consumers will want at any given moment and keep it on hand, organized in a way that's readily accessible, all on the possibility that someday, one person might want to purchase one copy of one obscure item. The cost of maintaining an inventory like that must be staggering; I'm sure that's at least part of the reason that a brick and mortar retailer might have to charge full retail price on a twenty year old book, but Amazon can sell it at a discount. And consumer behavior is changing to reflect this shift. If you want an obscure twenty year old book, you probably aren't going to bother with a trip to your local store, where they may not even have it in stock. You're much more likely to either try to order it online to be shipped to your home, or to download it at the touch of a button on one of your devices.

    It might seem like a little thing, but I think there's also a huge cultural change going on about availability. (That's probably not the best way to phrase it.) Ten or twenty years ago, the average customer might have decided that they felt like watching a movie on Friday, and then would have either gone out to their local theater or video store to get or see a movie. They might have left the house with an idea for a specific title, or they might have gone out without firm plans willing to accept whatever options were available when they arrived. I think that part of the equation has changed. A popular movie used to play in theaters for months at a time; now theaters scramble to add showtimes on opening weekend because audiences will either see it right away or wait until it's available to watch at home; it's very rare to have a movie that's making any kind of significant box office impact more than two or three weeks after it opens. Similarly, no one wants to wait their turn at the video store for a popular title, and streaming can accommodate as many people as there are that want to view a particular title at once. Long-term, these things create an expectation among consumers that what the media they want should be available instantly and never be out of stock, and those are two categories ("instant" and "never out of stock") that digital is best poised to handle.

  17. Reggie W

    Don't know where exactly you are over there but last time I was in London I used to frequent a shop called Fopp. There was another too that I would stop by but I can't recall the name of it at the moment.

    https://www.fopp.com/

    Fopp is excellent although they only have a handful of shops across the UK. They cater very well for the collector, stocking all the specialist labels. I shop there a lot but they are owned by HMV so if HMV close down, Fopp probably will as well.

  18. English Invader

    They do a complete(ish) Kubrick set on Blu-Ray for £25 (contains Lolita, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut and a two hour documentary about Stanley Kubrick).

    I believe the premium Shining comes with the full length US version and if you haven't seen that you're in for a treat.

    Thanks – didn't even consider looking for this, but then I already have the new 4k 2001 and Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut on my shelf ….
    Yes – The Shining is the USA longer cut and I really enjoyed that last night 🙂

    English Invader

    (I bought my first TT from HMV).

    I got my first turntable in 1971 – and got rid of my last one in 1988 – I'm not going back – I still buy CDs !!

  19. HMV London shop was going for decades in Oxford Street and they also sold appliances like fridges that HMV made. They had a fire mid-1930s and a picture, that might have been in The Gramophone at the time, that showed a man opening a fridge and the light was still on. I would suggest that was a set-up. I used then for mail order for a few items a few years back on DVD and had trouble getting a replacement for a set of the MGM Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple where I was missing a disc and had two of another. Eventually, I had to resort to British Consumer Affairs and in the end I got two sets, one coming express thru a courier service to my front door. The HMV Shop and HMV were eventually unrelated and I guess someone bought rights to use the name and run franchises. The current HMV Shop does not export. Much to the pity. HMV here in Australia closed many years ago now and they had a good magazine and I did buy from their store around the corner from my home in a major enclosed shopping complex. Often the large store had one staff member on. She was often quite rude and I told her so. Virgin had stores and a video label here and many good older British films from the 40s and 50s, in particular, were issued on there label and a rep once gave me a car trunk/boot full of sample VHS. The only trouble was they had time codes the top or bottom of the frame. We still have a couple of chains that have DVD/Blu Rays/CDs, and, now vinyl but majors like Kmart have dropped DVDs/Blu Rays. In the early DVD days Kmart often had 15%-25% off sales that included DVDs about once a month and by 8am on the Thursday there would be crowds, including me, waiting to rush across the store to the DVD area and buy up putting items on layaway at about $2 fee. Those were the days. There are still a few onliners going that send me list and one, Fishpond, a New Zealand firm with Australian facilities is the best and match the new Amazon Australia in that line. They also sell Marketplace, Free postage on everything and will source items from distributors outside Australia and best prices. The actual producers who also have a Store don’t match the Fishpond/Amazon prices but do have percentage off sales at special times like Christmas. I don’t have to a Prime like service from Fishpond but from this year Amazon Australia has jumped from the introductory $4.99 a month to $6.99 per month. At least if you buy $49.99 per order with overseas items Prime gives me Free postage along with local shipping which is usually next day and a warehouse 20-30mins drive from my home. I don’t stream but use You Tube and can download Limited time available TV shows and films from all the local TV networks.

  20. English Invader

    plus a two hour documentary about Stanley Kubrick

    I've struck lucky – my recently purchased (see post 9) HMV Premium Edition of 'Clockwork Orange' has the 'Kubrick – a life in pictures' documentary as an extra!!

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