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January 05, 2007
Just as the post-Christmas blues seem to be a great time for people to declare bankruptcy, it seems it’s the same for businesses too, especially if they’re High Street retailers.
The first three can all blame the internet, but maybe there’s another factor which explains the fall from grace of all four.
HMV and Music Zone have both tried to meet the challenge of the modern entertainment industry. And both have failed. Their websites are no match for Amazon or any of the other online success stories. Their stores still offer virtually the same goods as they did twenty years ago.
But importantly, the atmosphere in their shops isn’t good enough to tempt people to pay High Street prices. Where bookshops have caught onto the idea of installing coffee shops in their stores, HMV and Music Zone could have had juice bars where you can sample the latest music. They could have walled off areas for classical and jazz, creating different atmospheres under one roof. They didn’t, and so their shops are little more than warehouses charging relatively expensive prices.
Little Chef failed to modernize too. The decor, logo and style is very 1980s, but their prices have risen with inflation. The food they turn out isn’t good enough to justify the prices.
And it’s the same story at Games Workshop. Although there is a more interactive element to their stores, prices are still too high in relation to internet stores. The shops don’t look very modern or inviting, and they’ve been going backwards – in image terms – for years.
All four have image problems to overcome, but show little sign of doing much to make themselves interesting. I’d be surprised if more than two of them were still in business in 2008.