Imminent demise of HMV?

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Imminent demise of HMV?

I've just watched the ITN report on the probably imminent demise of HMV. It doesn't surprise me. The chief culprit is of course the internet; secondarily, though, the HMV franchise hasn't been able to free itself from the millstone of procedure and protocol. Before the independent shops went I used to buy CDs scheduled for release on a Monday at the end of the previous week. My last visit to HMV Oxford Circus, where I know people care about music (some excellent staff), resulted in an absurd situation where I pleaded with a cashier to let me buy a CD from a pile I could see behind the counter. The CDs were all labelled up, barcoded and ready to go. But no, I couldn't part with my money because it was Saturday and the disc wasn't technically released until Monday. The cashier offered to put a copy aside. I said no thank you as I wouldn't be back on Monday. I haven't been back since - and that was months ago.

I wonder what others feel?

John

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

On Monday releases, I agree, it is an insanity. If I order a new release on the internet it arrives pretty much on Monday or maybe Tuesday. If I have to wait for the subsequent Saturday at HMV then not only do I get it later but I might even not find it. So on new releases HMV does not compete due to this ancient rule about Monday releases. I'm sure that is only a small part of the story, but it is a part.

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

I just think that the ONLY way record shops can survive is by being genuinely passionate about what they're offering. That means knowledge, canny marketing and advantages, something which makes you prepared to spend a bit more for the pleasure of being in (or having contact with, even on the internet) an environment that's better than a buying session on, say, Amazon.

As you suggest, it's complicated. Maybe the market is too small for most independent shops/enlightened franchises to operate - although some still do. I'm looking forward to having some discs from the excellent Presto Classical in Leamington Spa in the next few days.

John

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

I used to go to HMV in Oxford street a lot. They used to have fabulous deals, and that's what attracted me. The last 2 times I went there were basically no deals there, only the permanent "on sale" collection (nothing of interest). The staff told me that HMV could no longer afford sales. Once you go upstairs towards the exit you are bombarded with items on sale from the movie and pop music parts of the store...

Nevertheless I hope the store will remain, it's one of the very last classical music stores around in central London.

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

Foyles on Tottenham Court Road opened a classical music section a year or two back, and it's not at all bad: worth a visit. Literally a minute away from HMV Oxford Circus is Harold Moores, which is pricey and not always on-the-ball with new releases, but occasionally comes up trumps. Otherwise, I've given up on central London as somewhere worth visiting regularly in pursuit of classical CDs. Can anyone recommend anywhere else in the capital?

John

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

John Gardiner wrote:
I just think that the ONLY way record shops can survive is by being genuinely passionate about what they're offering. That means knowledge, canny marketing and advantages, something which makes you prepared to spend a bit more for the pleasure of being in (or having contact with, even on the internet) an environment that's better than a buying session on, say, Amazon. As you suggest, it's complicated. Maybe the market is too small for most independent shops/enlightened franchises to operate - although some still do. I'm looking forward to having some discs from the excellent Presto Classical in Leamington Spa in the next few days.

Yes. And not only in the world of music retailers. When price is more or less the same everywhere and purchases can be made with the push of a button, the only reason to physically visit a shop is for its ambience, service and expertise, especially when the product itself doesn't need to be tried on, touched or examined from every angle.

There has been a big to-do locally about the demise of several long-established bookshops, a reaction I can't understand. My experience in my last visits to those retailers was one of frustration, trying to attract the attention of sales clerks yakking to eachother or busily cleaning their fingernails, and then being assaulted with a face full of attitude. Good riddance.

There is absolutely nothing, aside from incompetent management, preventing a retailer from providing that value-added experience that builds a loyal clientele. Ironically internet retailers, as disadvantaged as they are in this respect, are doing a far better job of reacting personally to their customers. Several times I have emailed queries to Presto, some of them fairly complex, which have received prompt and considered responses and resulted in purchases.

It's a fairly simple world out there. Offer your customers a fair price and an enjoyable buying experience and they'll keep coming back. Many retailers have lost sight of that.

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

I live a long way north of London and just happened to go into my local HMV branch tonight. The classical section is one small rack behind a pillar and consists of Classic FM releases (although there are a few great recordings hidden away there!) and Andre Rieu, Bond, Alfie Boe, etc. Then I looked around and noticed that in fact there was very little pop and rock music as well, so they must be really struggling with CD sales.

However on a rare trip to London a couple of months ago I went into the HMV on Oxford Street and was like a kid in a sweet shop. I thought the size of the classical CD and DVD department was impressive and made a few purchases, which weren't badly priced.

I then sought out Foyle's and Harold Moores for the first time and thought they were great shops. It is worth paying a little more to browse the shelves and talk to good staff, rather than just sticking with the internet. When its possible I'll always buy music from shops and hope they battle on. The same applies to book shops.

Graham

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

Graham J wrote:
...I went into the HMV on Oxford Street and was like a kid in a sweet shop.

I was last there in the spring and was greatly disappointed. Still a large area but where in the "good old days" there were tables loaded with great offers on box-sets, always racks of sale items and inducements such as 4 Naxos CDs for a score, this time there were just wide empty spaces and hardly anyone browsing. High Street stores won't get sales without temptation and who will be tempted by CDs at £15 a disc full price?

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

BazzaRiley wrote:

I was last there in the spring and was greatly disappointed. Still a large area but where in the "good old days" there were tables loaded with great offers on box-sets, always racks of sale items and inducements such as 4 Naxos CDs for a score, this time there were just wide empty spaces and hardly anyone browsing. High Street stores won't get sales without temptation and who will be tempted by CDs at £15 a disc full price?

I had exactly the same experience - that put me off, and I'm sure many others as well. Once you go down that slope... A real shame, I used to buy most of my CDs there. It's now almost a case of being forced by the high street retailers to do online shopping ...

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

Although HMV Oxford St has the same floor space as in the past, they took away some of the racks a year or so ago and so all the aisles are now shorter. Their stock is very poor compared to how it used to be. For example they often have only a few recordings of well known symphonies or major operas, and not necessarily the oft-recommended recordings. The people who work there seem to know something about classical music but they don't seem to be setting the agenda. The whole classical department feels tired and run down.

Compare this with the excellent Dussmann store in Berlin that I was in recently. The classical department is bright, luxurious, enormous and very well stocked. They are pricey, but they have much better stock in all categories than HMV Oxford St. They let you unwrap CDs and play them on CD players. They also are very busy with customers who seem to be buying things. I've noticed the same thing in Paris and Munich recently. I'm not sure of the reason - is it changes in buying habits in the UK, a lack of culture or just the dreary atmosphere in HMV?

Ted

 

 

RE: Imminent demise of HMV?

I fully agree with you Ted about Dussmann in Berlin, but don't forget it is Das Kulturhaus. It is a whole edifice dealing with all kind of stuff: books, multi-media, equipment, electronics and many more and it is practically the only one in the whole Berlin. More impressive was the Classical department of Saturn in Koln. However, I have some years to visit it, so I cannot claim it is still the vastest collection of Classical CDs in the world, as they used to advertise it.

Parla

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