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Retail Doom And Gloom Part Three: Any silver lining?

By | Published on Monday 5 January 2009


So, what does the future hold for HMV? On the upside, one of their biggest high street competitors is no more, and their other big rival is facing closure. On the down side, everyone’s going round saying music retail is dead in the water.

Needless to say, HMV are remaining upbeat in their public announcements, and have followed up Woolies and Zavvi’s very public demise with news of a revamp of two shops in their mini Fopp network. HMV, of course, acquired a handful of the Fopp stores after the indie retailer went under in 2007. This weekend they announced that the Fopp stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the indie brand’s original home, will be overhauled to introduce instore download facilities plus ticket and gadget sales.

HMV’s Gennaro Castaldo told reporters: “You’ll still find a comprehensive range of music, films and home entertainment. But we’ll now introduce social hubs where you can access your favourite music sites or MP3 kiosks to download new songs. Using chip-and-pin technology you can listen to virtually every bit of music that is digitally available. If you like it you can keep it and the cost will vary between 59p and 79p a track. Many young people download at home but we don’t want them to be a lost generation. We’d like them to come into our stores and treat them as more of a social space to hang out. We’re keen to keep the whole spirit of Fopp alive. We want to keep the indie essence and Scottish roots of the store – but run it independently from HMV”.

Elsewhere in music retail, and for those that reckon Woolies and Zavvi’s demise marks the beginning of the end for the CD and DVD formats, online mail order site has reported a 24% increase in like-for-like sales this Christmas. Sales of Take That’s ‘The Circus’ CD and the ‘Mamma Mia’ DVD helped with the boost in the four months leading up to Christmas. As much previously commented, it is the increasing popularity of the often price-cutting mail-order websites like Amazon and more so than an overall decline in CD sales or rise in digital downloads that has made things so difficult for UK-based high street CD/DVD sellers in recent years. The privately owned revealed the boost in its sales in a bid to prove that big names in the online retail sector are not suffering from the good old credit crunch in the way their high street rivals are.