The entirely expected news that HMV had gone into administration this week prompted shock quotes from all and sundry about the death of the High Street.
The music retailer, whose first store opened in 1921, has long been circling the drain, facing competition from online music and movie download sites, and the fact that 95% of any of the customers in store at any one time are just making lists of things they want to buy from Amazon later.
However, in a surprise about-face from vox-pop merchants – who have previously included HMV in the statement “these big chains are killing the High Street” – many have indeed announced that the death of Nipper the dog and his gramophone player signal the end of town centre shopping forever.
“It’s a sad day,” said Ellie Overall, 29, as we cornered her outside Cambridge’s Fitzroy Street store. “I bought my first ever CD in HMV when I was about twelve or something. Granted, I haven’t actually spent any money in there since I downloaded Napster in 2001, but come on, surely most people still shop there?”
James Outlady, a local pub manager, agreed. “The thing is, I don’t know whether to be happy that a massive corporate machine has shut, or sad that I won’t get to see their lurid pink logo twice a day on my way past,” he said. “What’s that – did I ever buy anything from there? I didn’t know people did that. Do they even have tills?”
It seems HMV is to go the way of Tower Records and Zavvi, but does this mean the final breaths for borough-based buying as well? “Probably not,” said retail analyst Will Worthington, speaking exclusively to the Citizen. “People said the same thing about small Dixons branches, Bejams, Woolies – the sure sign of the end of traditional retailing will only come when someone like Blockbuster Videos shuts, and I don’t see that likely to happen any time soon!”