HMV was first introduced to London’s high streets in 1921 with the first store opened on Oxford Street. It was met with a wide array of excitement and popularity as people came to HMV to buy all forms of DVD’s, CD’s, vinyls and lots of different forms of merchandise. Even throughout recent years HMV has introduced events such as live band performances and meet and greets for those wanting to meet their favourite artists and bands. However, with such popularity in London it’s become a shock to see what once was bright lights and an entertainment hub to now cold and dreary closed stores. HMV had such a huge presence on Oxford Street but now all that remains of the entertainment giant resembles an abandoned shop which looks as if it came straight out of a horror movie.
Even though there are some HMV stores still open across London, there is a simple answer as to why stores across London and the UK were closed down - they were unprofitable. The Mirror reported that it’s always been a rocky road for HMV as they’ve fallen into administration twice throughout a period of 6 years with profits falling rapidly. The Mirror went on to report that unfortunately this has also led to nearly 500 people becoming redundant at the closure of over 25 stores across the UK. Such a notable change has shocked many as the HMV on Oxford Street was even given a blue plaque stating that it’s “The World’s Most Famous Music Store”, even playing a significant role in the career of The Beatles.
But with such popularity, why would such a popular and important store close? With the rise of digital downloading, both illegal and legal, from films to albums on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music - there is simply no need for physical albums and DVD’s. Netflix and Amazon Prime have become leaders with thousands of films and box sets readily available for users for just a small fee per month - this fee being a lot smaller than the cost of one single DVD. For consumers this is a win-win situation as the cost of a DVD can be as much as £15 whereas on sites such as eBay and Amazon, these films can be bought for as little as £5 for a new version or even £1 for a used DVD. For example, Rocketman came out on DVD in late September and on HMV’s website it was listed for £12.99 however on eBay it was listed for £5. Frankly, HMV has become too expensive for the average consumer and when there’s other alternatives presented, it’s a no brainer situation that consumers would want to save money in an ever increasing world where saving money has become a priority.
Not only has the digital age been to blame for the closure of HMV stores across London and the UK, the rising business rates cost of physical retailers play an important role. According to The Independent, Desigual has become a new face of Oxford Street, with the rent being £700 per square ft which works out to be just over £1.2 million per year. The reason the rent is so expensive would be since the location of this specific store is categorised in Zone A, one in which has become one of the most expensive zones to set up shop in. According to Savills UK, Inglot agreed to a 10 year lease for their store which cost a total of £625,000 per year, with a presence in the West End being an important part of the brand’s identity and for the chance to further sales and from there profits. Not only do companies have to consider the ever climbing rent across London’s high streets but other factors involved including staff and the sales of the store itself. All of these factors come into play, with the rent being too expensive and low sales, which then give companies no choice but to make cuts to not only save the company but their overall profits.
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