Tuesday 12 December 2017

John Walsh: Why the possible fate of HMV stores has plunged me into un-Christmas gloom

I KNOW high street needs to change, and yield to economic necessity. The road that ran past my local station, boasted three cinemas. I watched with concern as they all closed down, to be re-cast as two bingo parlours and a publishing company.. But nothing has so plunged me into un-Christmassy gloom as the possible fate of HMV.

Once, HMV was the nation's top music retailer, kept on its toes by the competition of Virgin and Our Price Records. For the record-buyer, this was hog heaven. You could hardly move for the special offers on Wish You Were Here and London Calling. Things continued well for the brand leader: it expanded all over the UK and Europe. In 1996, its 75th birthday year, HMV had 300 stores in the UK and Ireland . It was unstoppable. It took over Waterstones, then it floated on the Stock Exchange... and then the new century caught up with HMV.

As Napster and iTunes and other online music stores established their presence after 2003, the big company struggled to keep up. From Christmas 2005, sales started to tumble. Loyalty schemes, in-store cinemas, even its own-brand social networking site, failed to halt the decline. As Virgin records shops metamorphosed into Zavvi shops and closed down, HMV started to shut its own stores.

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