HMV And The Dying Art Of Browsing
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 09:55 by Chris Hewitt in Empire States
Every Friday, I do a slot on a BBC radio show which is broadcast from just off Oxford Street. Every Friday after it’s done, I walk back to the Empire offices in Covent Garden. And every Friday – and don’t tell my boss – I pop into the HMV on Oxford Street (the big HMV, not the one in the basement of Selfridges), partially because it’s on my route back to the office, and partially because it gives me an experience that’s pretty much unique for a film fan in the UK: honest-to-goodness browsing.
I don’t buy every Friday. Sometimes, browsing is just that. But I’ve dipped into my pocket more often than not, particularly over the last few months as the retail giant mounted a particularly enticing Blu-ray sale that never seemed to end. If you’ve been in an HMV recently, you’ll know the one I mean. I’ve added substantially to my Blu-ray collection because of that sale.
But the point is, whether I buy or not, the experience is the key. That feeling of walking into a room filled with possibilities, knowing that, if you gave yourself over to it completely, you could spend hours wandering around the aisles and shelves, picking out films you don’t own, or haven’t heard of, or have a hunch about, or maybe you just like the cover. Maybe you’ll find a hidden gem. Maybe you’ll find that one film you’ve been looking for for ages, the one that allows you to proudly say you’re a Jeff Goldblum completist. Maybe you’ll find a bargain, one you hadn’t necessarily thought about owning, but what the hell, it’s only a fiver.
And now, if the news is true, if the worst comes to bear, that experience, that shared experience for film fans (music fans will still have indie stores; gamers will still have Game, if they can find a local store) up and down the UK, could be gone in a fell swoop, if HMV does indeed go into administration. And while the aforementioned Game indicates that administration isn’t always the end, the recent examples of Comet and Jessops tell us that more often than not, that’s exactly what it is. Within a couple of weeks, HMV could be a memory set to fade into the distance, like Virgin Megastores, Zavvi and Our Price – remember Our Price? – before it.
There will be those who won’t mourn, and indeed my Twitter feed last night, although largely sympathetic to HMV (including a few HMV employees), bore witness to a few of them; people who say that this is the way commerce is moving, that it’s survival of the fittest out there, that physical copies of DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs and games are on the decline – everything’s digital, baby, and everything lives either online or up there in the Cloud. That the High Street is changing irrevocably, and this is just the way it is. You can’t halt the tide.
There were also those who said that HMV brought this upon themselves; that the chain was its own worst enemy. And I’ll admit that that’s not too far off the mark. On those frequent browsing trips, I’ve often stared agog at the prices they charge for terrible, terrible films. £30 for a Blu-ray? Good luck shifting that stock, friendo, especially when you can pop online and pick up the same Blu-ray for probably two-thirds of the price.
But, for me, HMV is part of the furniture. There’s a certain romance about the place – weird, considering it is – or was - a corporate behemoth, from the garish pink logo to the iconic HMV dog, Nipper. And there’s an undeniable romance to being able to hold – actually hold – a copy of the film you just bought, to store it on a shelf at home so that others may come around to your gaff and relentlessly judge your taste in movies.
Not only that, HMV has proved invaluable over the years. When Tony Scott passed away last year, I was gripped by a desire to rewatch Crimson Tide that night. Amazon and Play.com deliver fast, but not that fast. Thankfully, the HMV down the road from Empire HQ had one copy left on Blu-ray. I was watching it just a few hours later. And I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve needed to grab a shot from a movie, and been bailed out by a quick saunter down to our local HMV (or Fopp, the brilliant indie-centric record/film store which was bought by HMV after it closed a couple of years ago; its fate is uncertain once more). You can’t get that from an online retailer, and you can’t recreate the satisfaction of browsing online, either. Not to my satisfaction, at least. Oh, sure, there will be small cinema stores that still offer that experience, but they’re dwindling fast (one closed down in Islington recently), and charge exorbitant prices. But hey, you can’t halt the tide.
Or maybe you can. Maybe something can be done, so that the thousands of HMV employees – or a good percentage of them anyway – may be saved, and that the millions of film fans in this country have somewhere to go to while away their lunch hour, and maybe broaden their horizons a little while doing so. What that something is, I have no idea – I’m no Adam Smith, and neither is Empire’s Adam Smith – but I fervently hope that a remedy can be found for His Master’s Voice. For I’d hate to imagine a world in which we couldn’t hear it any more.
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Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 10:21
Can't agree more with that article. For me, HMV became my sanctuary, my escape when dragged out shopping. "I'll just nip in here, see if there's anything on special" was my parting line. More often than not, I'd walk out having bought something I hadn't planned on. Alas, no more.
Now I'll admit having gone there less over the past couple of years, but that was due to having bought a blu- Ray player and finding HMV were living in cloud cuckoo land when it came to their blu-ray pricing (20 quid for standard release movie?), but I lived in hope that those in charge would realise this and adjust their prices.
Furthermore, I feel sorry for people like my pensioner parents for whom the internet is a minefield and will often buy a birthday or Xmas present from HMV. Where is left for them to go now?
Goodbye HMV, I'll miss you.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:01
I may be a purist or perhaps I have aged out of the generation that decides how we do things (or sell things) but I will always want the physical copy of a film. Digital downloads are okay in a pinch but I like to see my shelves creaking under the weight of my DVDs. I found myself annoyed when two characters in Pitch Perfect chose to watch a film on a laptop (she might not have had a telly and all but it still annoyed me).
The possible demise of HMV might force us towards this type of purchasing, though. It was still online sales of physical DVDs - even from HMV's own website - that were infinitely cheaper than in store prices as well as places like Asda's bargain bin that drove me away from shopping in store some time ago but I could always rely on HMV for that instant purchase. Sometimes I just wanted a film right then and there - you're right.
So when people are seized by this desire to have a film instantly our only choice will be downloading it. Or developing patience.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:08
As a teenager growing up in poxy old post-Our Price, pre-Virgin Megastore Middlesbrough, HMV was the only place to go to buy videos. No trip down town with your mates was complete without popping in and browsing the isles. I pre-ordered all the special edition X-Files videos. I'd flip longingly through the single rack of Laser Discs, knowing that one day that three-disc Star Wars Trilogy box set would be mine, oh yes, it would be mine. And my mates and I would spend ages deciding which sci-fi t-shirt was the coolest.
Obviously that experience has been gone for probably about 15 years now. The stores have gotten bigger and bigger; novelty t-shirts have lost their charm value; and the electronics section has increased exponentially, whilst still never quite managing to stock the one iPod gubbin you were looking for when Currys didn't have it in stock.
In recent years a trip to HMV - even during their once all-conquering sales - resulted in me whipping out my iPhone to check the inevitably cheaper prices on Amazon, and then deciding not to buy anything after all. But that browsing experience is still second to none, especially for a lover of physical media like me.
I think HMV still has enough of the market, and enough potential (perhaps combined with a better online offering) to survive; I predict a Game-style buyout. I hope so, anyway. The prospect of no film stores on the high street apart from the second-hand havens like That's Entertainment is rather depressing.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:15
Oh, eff them. Right up their eff-holes.
I've got decades-old CDs, DVDs and even VHS tapes with stupid prices still on them from when HMV reigned supreme and they chose to bend me over the cash desk and diddle my skittle instead of actually provide me with value for money, and they've never changed. They breezed into my town, finished off all the neat little independent stores and then larged it charging me £14 for a VHS tape or £16 for a bloody CD. Ooh, undercut by Asda? Boo-hoo, you vas deferenses! Shouldn't have acted like Somali pirates all these years. Yarrrrrr!
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:15
I browse HMV every time I'm in my town and certainly on the majority of occasions I end up with something I hadn't planned on buying. I rarely do this online and I'm not interested in downloads of movies. CD's are probably almost done for but I think DVDs and Blu-Rays still have a market. I think (read as: hope) that it's such a big name that a buyout may just be possible.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:16
I'm from Germany. And I'm a film (and music) lover. The UK had stores like HMV or Virgin Megastore long before Germany had anything comparable. I'd heard about them even before I first entered one of them, on a trip to London many many years ago. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Walking through rows upon rows of shelves full of VHS (back in those days) was an overwhelming experience. I don't think you can really understand it unless you have experienced it yourself.
I have since been to the UK many times, and of course in the meantime Germany has gotten stores like Media Markt or Saturn with extensive DVD departments...but whenever I'm over in your country, I still cannot walk past an HMV without nipping inside for a quick browse, no matter where I am or how big the HMV is. If HMV vanishes, something integral to my experience of visiting the UK will vanish with it. And I will miss it very much.
Apart from those very personal feelings, I feel so very sorry for all the employees that may lose their jobs. It's horrifying and shocking. We've had far too many mass-layoffs like this in recent years, all across Europe.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:21
As a former employee this leaves me both sad and unsurprised. The company was poorly managed at the top levels for the 3 years I was there.
One of the feelings I took from my time there is a sense of shame when helping a customer find a film they so desperately want/need only to then tell them it costs £20/30. We told the powers that be but they seemed to be living a couple of years behind us.
It's a waste of a great place for people browse, discuss and enjoy.
I'll miss browsing if it does go but the people I also feel sorry for are 'the regulars'. The customers that, for good or bad, old or young, we all knew.
Not everyone can learn to shop online I agree but if they could, is that what we'd really want?
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:23
You can romanticise about them all you like, but it's a business that has failed to adapt. The company made its billions in the eighties & nineties when everyone bought into the idea of upgrading from Vinyl to CD's.
Some of the blame should lie with The Government and on-line companies that took advantage of Tax Loopholes which has crippled our high streets and put British people out of work. But at the same time HMV did very little to help themselves out of the situation they found themselves in.
I personally think they should leave a couple of the bigger stores open, and move into becoming an on-line retailers.
Also the news that they aren't accepting any more gift vouchers just shows that they don't treat their faithful customers with the same compassion and idyllic values that you hold for them Chris.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:39
The not-honouring-gift-vouchers thing is a decision of the administrators, I believe, not HMV itself; whatever HMV's faults (and there are many, I agree), I think this is standard practice for a bust organisation. Game did the same thing this time last year.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:53
I'm afraid I have to agree about their pricing strategy, it makes you wonder who was left in charge of that, 10, 20 year old cds selling for 15 quid, no one will part with that much cash anymore. When I can I try to shop HMV for new chart releases, if they're the same price as online I'll buy from the store. But it makes you wonder how they can go when they are the ONLY proper music and dvd retailer left now... if you go HMV you will be sorely missed.
....doesnt HMV still own Waterstones....?
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:53
It was really odd to read about this. Just before Christmas I went for an interview with HMV, which went really well and I was all but sure I had the job, then a few days later I was informed I didn't get it. It severely chopped my spirit at a time of year when spirit should be in abundance. But now, a mere month later, I read that the company's going into administration. If this is karma working for me on some gargantuan scale then I appreciate the sentiment, but I think you overestimated how upset I was.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 11:53
I've always loved the browsing experience, I've actually always preferred fopp to hmv, there's wider range and better prices so hope that both survive somehow. I often look online to see where's best price wise for a film, hmv would often be more expensive but that caused the debate if wakking into the city and getting a film now instead of 3 days from now was worth £2 extra.
However... if there is no saving hmv, the closing down sale will be immense *starts licking lips*
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 12:54
Spot on Chris, as almost always.
Now when the Mrs. drags me into town for some "vital" clothes shopping, where do I go to get away from that?! No-where.
But what I feel most from this article is knowing there can now no longer be any Hewitt-stalking, looking out for you in Oxford St. HMV on a Friday afternoon...boo!
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 12:59
@freddyboi13 No - HMV sold Waterstone's a couple of years ago. James Daunt - of Daunt Books - runs it now with, I think, Russian backing.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 14:09
Although this news is somewhat tragic, as a former employee it certainly isn't surprising. The focus was always on trying to flog as much as possible to the customer (HMV loyalty cards which cost £3 for example). I'd get a nice pat on the pack for selling someone a game console but when I managed to find that film a customer had been searching for all day, well the managers didn't seem too concerned. Instead of aiming to give the customer a great browsing experience with fair pricing, HMV has always tried to squeeze the most it can from it's customers. What a surprise they've been undercut online and in supermarkets.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 16:43
Here in Germany, we used to have a chain called WOM, World Of Music. Back in the dark ages (when VHS ruled the telly), they even sold tapes from the UK, which meant I could watch my favourite films as God intended. And learn a bit of English along the way.
Needless to say, WOM died even before the internet had a chance to kill it. Which meant I would always keep some empty space in my luggage when traveling to the UK - as well as reserve a morning or afternoon purely for DVD shopping. Virgin Megastore at Piccadilly Circus was actually the place to go for me. Browsing through row after row of - occasionally very hard-to-get - DVDs was certainly a wonderful pastime. And a constant I relied on, no matter how disappointing certain visits to Blighty might have been in other regards.
But Virgin Megastore is no more, neither is Zavvi - and HMV, as Chris noted, was often deluded when it came to prices. Mind you, I'll miss even these slightly shabby and dark shops. It's yet another piece of Britain I've loved that's about to get extinguished.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 17:30
If you've ever been to America, most things of entertainment are sold in Walmart. Large, depressing places that sell everything under the sun and have absolutely no character. The high street is so important to Britain and I think a limit should be placed on what can be sold in Tesco, Asda et all. I can't imagine anything worse than a town made of a super-sized supermarket, pound lands and clothes stores, but things seem to be heading that way. You're never going to get the cast of a film do an in-store signing at a Sainsbury's nor find an obscure film you remembered watching with your grandparents while flicking through a shelf on the internet.
Amazon might be cheaper, but they don't employ the same amount of people, have computer generated recommendations and don't pay taxes.
HMV could have done things to help itself, but there are many outside factors to blame as well.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 18:25
You know, I feel so sorry for the employees of this failed(ing) company, particulally in the present climate. However I have little sympathy for the business itself.
People can bang on about downloads this and downloads that but there are many millions of people out there that like me want as has been said that physical item, that tangible thing. I often go to the shelving and browse my DVDs and Blurays to choose a classic to watch or the latest released blockbuster. The same with my CDs.
No, the problem with HMV was price, not its endless sale on various items, but its general pricing was far to high. Why buy a chart DVD or Cd there when I could buy at the local supermarket for a fiver less. Then with that fiver I could buy another DVD or Cd. And to rub salt in their own woundsHMVs website was always cheaper than the stores with free postage. Sorry HMV but you probably killed yourself......
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 18:32
I spend 2-3 hours there every Saturday. Living in a shitty western Irish city, it's the only place for people like myself. Plus, my local HMV has a special place for Empire on the counter!
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 18:32
The problem here is choice. If I want a certain film I go into my local HMV and have a look and they never have what I want, and if they go to order it for me the cost is too prohibitive. I can come home, go online and buy a 2nd hand copy of ebay for a third of the price and I don't have any hassles. The waiting time is the same as if I ordered it in store so I dont lose out here.
HMV had the chance to get real but they blew it - they should have done what Zavvi done and set up an online online only store - for example :
HMV website - Star Trek 10: Nemesis blu ray £10 free p + p
ebay (Zavvi Store) - Star Trek 10: Nemesis blu ray £8 free p + p
£2 per film saved - 10 films and twenty quid in my pocket
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 20:34
There's another factor here that's being massively overlooked and that's piracy. Whether it be online piracy or knocked-off DVDs, CDs etc. if so much content wasn't downloaded illegally or bootlegged, it may have been possible to set prices at a more realistic level. Billions are lost every year to pirates and whilst most people see this as a victimless crime except for the "rich" major studios and record companies etc. the reality is that it DOES have victims. Believe me, I know; I was made redundant from a major studio just before Christmas in yet another round of cost-cutting, and now HMV and it's regular-Joe employees are in the same boat. Don't get me wrong, I agree with many of the comments above regarding the pricing of tangible goods in stores - I rarely buy new release titles at their premium price, I'm happy to wait until they come down to a more realistic level - but it doesn't help when it takes constant lobbying to governments and law-making bodies to do anything about a problem which, at it's most basic level, is theft and should be instantly punishable.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 21:07
If I'm in a town centre with time to spare I'll usually pop into an HMV, even with no plan to buy anything but just to browse.
It's the only place in most UK town centres that contain anything approaching popular/global art (no the cinema moroniplexes don't count).
I'd never EVER buy a CD or DVD in Tesco, etc, no matter how cheap. For one thing they probably wouldn't have the quality item I want. Secondly, it would be just too uncool. You don't buy art in supermarkets. Neither would I download an entire movie or album (individual songs yes), without the satisfaction of holding the visual art that comes along with the physical disc.
Now there isn't an HMV in the town I live, but I do want to buy Dredd for example and would happily drive to the next town close by which does have an outlet.
Unfortunately for HMV, it's online retail that offers physical but cheaper for people less willing to seek out a branch.
Unfortunately for everyone, no HMV means more space for Euro Kentucky Fried Chicken Cock & Chips, or Gamblers Breath Ltd to fill up instead.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 23:28
Here in the U.S. we used to have Border's, which sold cds, dvds and books. Plus, they had a nice coffee shop. It was so fun to just go there, with friends or alone, and shop for a couple of hours. I'd buy some music or movies, maybe a book, and a magazine, then sit in the coffee shop with my cafe mocha and muffin, or a soup and sandwich if i was hungry. I'd sit there for maybe another hour, looking over the liner notes of the albums (and dvds if they were Criterion), or reading my magazine. Border's went out of business two or three years ago, and i miss it dearly.
I still go to Best Buy, and i can easily spend over an hour there just browsing, but it's not quite the same.
Posted on Tuesday January 15, 2013, 23:29
HMV has aided my film education, stumbling over films I wouldn't normally have watched. Browsing through the aisles I discovered Kurosawa, Miike, early Nolan. They allowed me to get hold of Lumet, Hitchcock, Scorcese, Truffaut (Can't just pick those up in Tesco). I would happily spend time actively hunting through the racks to find Welles, Ford, Leone. I would wander down to pick up my pre-orders of classics & guilty pleasures (Blade Runner: The Directors Cut / Angus). I have a spent countless hours in HMV & loved every second.
Now I'm not saying I don't buy Blu-Rays & DVDs online, I do, but I still hit HMV for a regular impulse buy that I then have to sneak into the house without the wife seeing & then complaining! & if HMV goes then I'm going have to wait for my impulse buys to be delivered... & the wife will have even more to complain about!
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2013, 10:26
Ok, so they were overprized at times, or their website was cheaper than their store, but let's be honest here, that's not what killed them.
What killed them is the same thing that wipes out small cinemas all over the planet, indie music stores and other qualtiy stuff: Piracy. Not "the internet", not Ebay, but Millions of millions of people who don't see why they should give money for a product that they can have for free! That's right, you and me, who buy iShit for 500€ or the latest Samsung product, but don't see why they should pay 10€ for a film/an album/ a game that a group of artists spend years in doing.
And the same people have the audacity to complain that music and films today are shit, and just commercial crap. But we don't pay for qualtiy anymore, do we?
It's a sad empty world, and it's getting emptier every hour.
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2013, 10:56
Wow! You got me! HMV a home away from Home. Yeah Even holding a Copy of a DVD that you just recently baught and then saying to yourself "yep". Why does that feel so good inside. Then just in corner of your eye you see someone about to buy the experience and then saying to yourself "you wont be disapointed my friend". And for me even holding a film you have owned for years then you see the new front cover for it and you even consider of buying it again oooooohhh i love it all.
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2013, 13:31
It's an absolutely horrible situation - and it would be such a shame to lose a haven such as HMV.
Back in it's dying days, I worked for Musiczone and, subsequently, Fopp, and I still feel their loss to this day - not just as a worker, but as a shopper. There truly is something magical in perusing the shelves of a DVD store.
And as you say, sure, the process of ordering online can be easier - it's a click away and saves ques (in fact I did do all of my Christmas shopping online for this reason, because of an ankle injury that prevented me from moving) but there isn't the immediate ownership of the product.
That being said, many a time have I pre-ordered a film online, and received it before it was released in stores.
I am just hopeful the HMV will make it through this, or at least continue to survive as an online store - I find it's prices are often cheaper than Amazon and Play!! - like Zavvi did.
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2013, 15:05
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but HMV don't help themselves when they hold a sale but then bump up the RRP on an item. At the end of the day I'll always go for something online that is vastly cheaper than buy the same item overpriced in store. The 'Rip off Britain' phrase springs to mind.
Posted on Wednesday January 16, 2013, 21:15
Good riddance to bad rubbish. I got so sick and tired of the "our prices need are such and such because we obviously can't compete with our online prices blah blah" - I was looking for a pair of headphones around christmas to buy with some HMV vouchers I'd been given - I found a few that I fancied online, and went into the store, expecting a bit of a difference but not enough hat I would care as it wasn't my money - they were £17.99 online and THIRTY QUID instore. Absolute disgrace. They've always been like Borders; ludicrous prices, expecting the public to feel sorry for them and just pay the higher rates, presumably, tugging at the heartstrings with the old spiel about the high street retailer finding it hard to compete these days.
Their prices have always been a joke. And I've always said, find a way to be cheaper, because if you don't, you'll close. You can't compete? Okay then, you're over. You can't lower your prices? Okay then, you're over. Knock knock, hullo?
And who the hell is the guy who wouldn't buy something at Tesco because it's "so uncool?" Maybe you ought to find yourself a nice coffee house to hang out in, across the road from the local arthouse cinema and pop on some trendy emo glasses. How utterly laughable. Who the hell, in their right mind, would care about something like that?
Ta - ra HMV, your hideous greed won't be missed, you overpriced, blight on our high street.
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 09:57
I was a bit down about this, but then I remembered that there used to be independent music and video shops that were destroyed by the homogenization of the high street by large chains just like HMV. The danger of allowing huge chainstores to dominate is that if they get into trouble then the service they provide vanishes altogether. I'd like to see independent retailers return to the High Street, but I can't see that happening when we have a recession on. Not unless the government tries to bring down overheads to make running a shop worth anyone's time. I think what will really happen is that someone will invent a clever website that gives the shopper a proper browsing experience and not the thumbnail rubbish that we currently have. If I could idly flick through virtual shelves on a tablet I'd not miss a shop like HMV.
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 10:28
Aaaah, the HMV New Year Sale. An annual pilgrimage that looks like being lost. When else would I stock up on twenty odd movies in one hit? Also, where else can I say to the Missus 'You go & shop, I'll see you in HMV. No Dear, of course I won't buy anything, just browsing - tee hee...'. My teenage years were spent hanging around in HMV. A sad day indeed!
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 12:23
No matter what anyone says, it's still very cool to go round to someone's house and see they have an extensive vinyl collection, or massive CD cabinet or a genred DVD collection splanning the entire living room wall. It just shows an interest, a peaked enjoyment to hold and feel the product.
Never is it the same if someone shows you how many downloads they have, or how big their iTunes collection is.....that's fu**ing lame to be honest. (Note - don't bother showing anyone that collection!)
I used to work at HMV when I was 18, and can't remember having a more enjoyable (if underpaid) job (£4.48 an hour baby!), and I definitely can't think of a time when I ventured into town without making the ubiquitous visit to HMV. Admittedly, many of the stores are soulless compared with all the indies that vanished years ago, but it's really a case of making do with what's out there, and HMV is the best we've got so it would be a crying shame if it vanished forever more.
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 13:41
I'll be sad if HMV go, not least because I have a friend who works there. I will also miss the charm of mindlessly browsing through their stock - there's not really any other shops I'd do that in left.
Truth be told though, in recent years I'd only ever buy something from an HMV if it was on promotion. Some reasons behind their downfall:
- usually more expensive than online
- sometimes very odd pricing structures. Just before the news about them going into administration broke I was looking at the HMV online store (ironically) for Breaking Bad DVDs. The season 1-4 box set was more expensive than if you bought each season separately. Daft.
- poor selection: if you're looking for the new Transformers DVD, or Rhianna CD, well, there's a mountain of them in stock. Looking for anything a bit more obscure and you may struggle to find what you're after.
- their online service seemed a bit fragmented. I remember browsing online for an MP3 album download. If you go onto Amazon, one search shows you how you can buy the album in all available formats. On HMV though they had one site selling the CD and a separate site selling the MP3 download.
Still, I hope they can be saved. I would hope there's room left at least for a slimmed-down HMV chain.
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 14:25
It will be a shame to see HMV go off the high street. I agree 100% with the article, me and my mates often go into HMV on our dinner breaks from Uni and just browse and then talk about every film we pick up. But HMV is so expensive on some things, Young Adult on Blu-ray for 23 pounds WTF!! and some old classics on DVD that are priced at 10 pounds when you can find a used copy on PLAY/AMAZON or CEX for 1.50. It will be sad to see them go but I think they are doomed.
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 15:18
For me everytime walking in to HMV is just like the scene on 'Beauty and the Beast' when Belle for the first time walks into the Beast's huge book collection. The music is playing, the camera is spinning and it all amzing! But in my mind its DVD's!!! I will really miss that moment, those first few steps in HMV.
And one Day i will be the Beast and will show Belle my huge collection of DVD's Thanks to the inspiration of HMV!
But she's not keeping it!
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 17:23
Why is everyone getting to nostalgic, they had their time and they had the monopoly on prices. When the push came to shove they chose to ignore the reality and so it was their own downfall.
Many people here are just creatures of habit, next generation will laugh at all of us for going to a store spending ages looking for something you can find online in minutes. I personally never liked going to HMV and browsing relentlessly trying to follow the alphabet just to find out the 5 year old movie im looking for is £15 and so I stopped going years ago as soon as I got an alternative.
ps. @ last.caress too funny and too true
The internet and the freedom of choice is a godsend. Amazon might have unfair business practices and something must be done about that but online retailers have a better deal for customers end of.
Just like Kodak, Sony Ericsson etc, fell by the wayside due to progression of technology so did HMV, as it's getting replaced by Netflix and Games by Steam. People want to find someone to blame but that's just the harsh reality and I think it should have happened sooner,
Posted on Thursday January 17, 2013, 22:11
Sometimes I go to town just to go to HMV. Not to buy anything in particular, just to go and have a look at what I could and probably shouldn't buy. Rarely do I leave HMV without without something in my hand, but it's a nice meeting place in Newcastle. "Outside HMV at 2?" is a very common phrase. If it does disappear from the high streets it'll be sorely missed.
Posted on Friday January 18, 2013, 14:25
In the last few years my lunch hours have frequently consisted on browsing GAME (branch now closed) and HMV and Blockbuster on the way back home. Any retailer who wishes to pay me to avoid them should get in contact.
This week I too went into HMV look at the same sale as Chris. It highlighted to me 2 things that I worry about with a digital based future over physical and the perils of a Supermarket dominated highstreet. Not expecting to really buy anything I walked out with a a whole bunch of world cinema releases (Oldboy, Infernal Affairs, Ong Bak etc). I'm not really an follower of these but it dawned on me that without an HMV like retailer, with no niche shops near me, I may not get another oppertunity. Maybe I could watch them on a digital service, maybe not....but I'm certain that such a selection is in no hurry to sit on the shelf as Tescos
But the thing I really don't want to lose is that moment you find something you compeltly forgot about or never expected to find - think deleted scene in High Fidelity (or the book). In my case, buried in the shelves was "A Town Called Panic". Now the memories of the movie-con preview, my friend's subsequent high praise of the shorts and the lack of a local cinema showing it all came back and I was impulse purchasing it seconds later.
My point is a simple one that out of sight had become out of mind. Sure I could use other digital stores like amazon and it could still have been cheaper but in a crowded market that's always being updated, it had just been lost in the shuffle.
For what it's worth, I think Amazon could so worse than have some stake in HMV especially since they do have a some physcal presence nowadays. Stick amazon lockers in the stores, let people order online and collect for items like DVDs and games when they have them.
Posted on Friday January 18, 2013, 21:47
@ Drone, well guess I'm not a drone.
I don't drink coffee, and emo is the last thing I am. I do buy food from Tesco, as it's relatively cheap, also in the knowledge that it's going to exit my body as waste by the next day. Anyway, Tesco's just an example - I wouldn't buy CDs or DVDs at any other supermarket either.
If there's a DVD or CD I really want to buy (once in a blue moon these days), then I'm gonna put that item on a higher level than something lying in a bargain bin CD bucket by the check-out. Supermarkets don't need my cash anyway.
Hopefully HMV will be able to mega downsize rather than disappear entirely and hold on to it's main London stores at least. I'd def pop in now and then.
Posted on Saturday January 19, 2013, 01:08
I will miss it though I'm just as guilty as not going in as often as I used to... though I did order most of my pre-ordered DVD's from their own website, so they still got my money.
I never understood the business model they had up until recently regarding this anyway, as their website often sold new DVD's at 60%-75% the price they had in store, and they tended to ship a week before release; so not only would you pay less online, but you'd have them two or three days before you could buy the release in store... what other factors are there to consider? This does seemed to have changed of late, and the new releases tended to ship a little later, so that they would actually arrive on release date, but the price in store also tended to match... but once again, it's still less hassle to click a couple of buttons that travel to pick one up.
I used to pop in all the time to browse their sales but in the last year or so, that's not really happened as much... in fact, when I dropped in during the week after I heard they were in administration, it was probably the first time in two or three months... but I realised what I was missing when, whilst browsing, I chanced across two films I'd never heard of before, and both for only a couple of quid... Peter Sellers in "The Blockhouse", and Dan Ackroyd in "Doctor Detroit". I doubt I would have ever just stumbled across them online, and that's the beauty browsing in these shops gives you... finding the odd little hidden gem.
If HMV disappears, that experience will be missed.
Posted on Saturday January 19, 2013, 08:29
People seem to think that high street shops deliberately have their prices higher just to annoy customers. That's just not the case! Having worked in retail (books and media) I know the prices that stores have to buy items in at. Those old CDs that are still at £15? Well, HMV probably bought them in at a poor discount, and what they have to try and work out is whether to sell them at a loss and shift them, or keep them on at a price that will actually make them some money.
Online stores don't have so many staff, don't have to pay so much rent (as they are run from warehouses, not retail stores), have minimal upkeep, and in some cases aren't paying tax! They can afford to sell things much cheaper. I think HMV were smart to capitalise on this as much as they could on their online store.
There is nothing more humiliating and frustrating as a retailer to have a customer look at a price and then say to your face that they will go and check Amazon, as if your prices are deliberately higher just to spite them.
Posted on Saturday January 19, 2013, 09:42
As an ex HMV employee (one of the Dublin stores many moons ago while at college), I'm really sorry to see this happen. There's nothing better than a good browse and then spotting a bargain! Problem is that's all I ever bought in HMV in recent years - 3 blu rays for this, 5 blu rays for that etc... The prices they charged (right up to this week) on non discounted stuff is the very reason I bought new releases on line! Sorry to see HMV go but I can't say I'm surprised!
Posted on Saturday January 19, 2013, 10:49
It doesn't help walking into hmv only to be bombarded with trash heavy metal music blaring out,many a time I've walked in saw a DVD I liked,saw the rrp and thought fuck it ill buy from amazon for a fiver.thats why hmv have gone tits up,much like game and blockbusters.cex will be next,£40 for a second hand game,?
Posted on Monday January 21, 2013, 13:00
I am not surprised either and suspect that Waterstones will fall before too long. And it's partly my fault because I buy mainly from Amazon because it is so much cheaper. I love bookshops, but paying £7.99 instead of £3.99 is not worth the love.
Once HMV and Waterstones have gone the power will reside with Amazon to gently tweak up the prices knowing we have nowhere else to go.
Posted on Monday January 21, 2013, 19:09
I only ever use HMV for inspiration. why do people still pay for films and music when it is all free on-line.(Eztv.it Kickasstorrents, pirate bay?)
Time for the industry to stop bitching and think of another way of making art.
Time for a change, the highstreet store is dead. EVOLUTION
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2013, 10:56
Speaking as more of a music fanatic, I'm more upset about having one less music store to browse in, as so many independent stores have closed, people like me who don't live in city's have only HMV (who thankfully kept their branch in Perth, Scotland open for now) to browse for music, films and games. Although I do prefer using independent record stores for music, and online simply has so much more choice and better prices than HMV, I've myself buying most of my dvd's in HMV stores. As you have brilliantly put into the words the satisfaction of looking, finding and physically purchasing a DVD, that is something I will dearly miss! Not too mention, my recent purchase of a playstation 3, my Blu-Ray purchases have just started. I think the closing of HMV will be inherently wrong for the high street - especially at christmas time - and will leave me very few shops I will actually want to browse anything. Don't put Nipper down!
Posted on Tuesday January 22, 2013, 16:25
Thanks for all the comments on the blog thus far. Good to see most of you are firm fans of browsing, and the news on HMV is actually looking positive, so fingers crossed.
Oh, and @tokin5000, I still pay for films and music because a) video piracy is a crime and b) if we don't pay for it, sooner or later nobody will make any. But mainly the former - I've never illegally downloaded a film, and never will.
Posted on Sunday January 27, 2013, 22:30
Our greatest invention will be our downfall. The internet will be responsible for the death of retail & then where will a very large percent of the population work?
I am an HMV employee who loves to still purchase Blu Rays, CDs etc, I've never downloaded a piece of music or film & don't want to. I and many people like me still want to be able to go into a store & actually have a physical item in our hand.
Many websites charge prices that are pretty close to the retail stores & with my nice discount I certainly won't be purchasing online as THEY are too expensive. If HMV does indeed die then my film collecting days are well & truly over!