High Street Low

15 Jan 2013

I am genuinely upset at the news that HMV has called in the administrators.

I really do hope it can find a solution to its woes and save all those jobs.

The Oxford Street store has been a haven for me for many years as I grab a precious few minutes to myself at random lunchtimes - it is a great place for getting lost and browsing row upon row of DVD/games/other cool stuff.

Of course HMV, just like Jessops and Comet before it, has been hit hard by the online revolution.

But it doesn't have to be this way. There is room for both. It's not like online shopping is anything new.

If anyone is watching the Mr Selfridge programme on a Sunday - that was the golden era of retail - where customer experience was everything. Sadly there is no customer experience anymore - it has all been lost. That could be how shops entice in the customers - going back to their roots.

Aside from that it needs a combined effort from the retailers, local authorities and the government to sort this out and safeguard jobs.

I try to keep my political feelings out of most things - but why is the government not doing more to protect UK businesses?

This government and the shower before it were either too busy writing up their expenses, voting themselves payrises or flogging off British institutions abroad (remember Cadbury?) to actually think about protecting these businesses and keeping them part of our national fabric.

In the manufacturing space we are faced with car makers shutting operations in the UK (Honda) and laying off hundreds of people, because they are protecting their own workers in their home countries first as sales begin to fall.

Why does that not happen in the UK?

Instead over here, shops are faced with sky high rents, rates etc that put them in a difficult position before staffing costs and other operating expenses are taken into consideration. And of course councils keep increasing parking costs year after year which stops people venturing onto High Streets.

As a result of the eye-watering charges, prices are higher than perhaps some shops would like, which are in turn beaten online by organisations with no bricks and mortar overheads. And the cycle continues.

Of course banks aren't going to be sympathetic - they are just out to screw businesses and customers as much as they can. (yes I am bitter)

Consumers are struggling and they are always going to go for the cheapest deal possible.

I admit, some shops are just greedy, and ramp up pricess unneccessarily, but they too are feeling the pinch as shoppers desert them in droves.

But unless we want high streets across the country filled with charity shops, empty units and poundshops - something needs to be done soon. And it needs to start from the top.

It is a very sad state of affairs.

Go on HMV. You can do it!

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