It was recently announced that HMV, one of Britain’s most famous shopping destinations, and certainly the most favoured of High Street entertainment stores, would go into administration. Having already put 4500 jobs at risk and invalidated all outstanding gift vouchers company’s fate now lies within the hands of a buyer, or company such as Hilco to buy the group out of admin, as they did with HMV Canada, in 2011.
However, the possible demise of HMV would follow the likes of stores such as Woolworths and Zavvi (formerly Virgin Records) that faced an intense struggle to compete with online outlets and the tyranny of illegal downloading. Both of which are now solely online merchants, although neither of which remain selling music. HMV.com does offer a wide range of products, including those that you won’t even find in their Oxford Street flagship store, but struggles to match prices with online retail giants such as Amazon andPlay.com. Thus raising the question of, “why pay more for a product online when the exact same product can be bought for less, from another website?”
A valid and explicitly true point, but the task of venturing into a store, wrestling through the other customers, searching frantically through racks of albums that have been misplaced by other vendors and finishing the quest with a queue that seems to take hours to reach an end, brings a higher feeling of reward than clicking a few bright coloured hyperlinks and typing in your bank card number. Yet this sense of achievement could be just about to diminish. Online shopping may be easy and convenient but what if the world lost its need for shops, leaving us to purchase every single thing online. Turning the world into a bunch of hermits that only leave home to head out to the sorting office to collect a heap of parcels.
Yes, there are still a host of independent shops that cater for music fans, as well as supermarkets that stock chart CD’s and a selection of DVD titles and the aforementioned plan for Primark to start selling chart albums, but there isn’t a wide range to cover all tastes and desires. Some blame stores such as HMV for being too expensive, whereas others blame illegal downloading. While the law and a huge percentage of music fanatics disagree with music piracy, there are still thousands, if not millions of people that acquire their music through an unjust medium. With hundreds of available sources, making it incredibly easy to download music for free. Let’s avoid the argument of illegal downloading, although whether seen as right or wrong, it plays an important part in the saddening decline of music sales.
The future of HMV isn’t known just yet, but let us hope that the chain does find a source of replenishing income, before we lose the 91 year-old British institution.