I’m surprised they make any money at all

BBC NEWS | Business | HMV seeks to revitalise business

HMV has been a presence on Britain’s High Streets for many years. Quite possibly the first name that comes to mind for many people when asked for a “record shop”, which is itself an old-fashioned name. And it seems that they’re having trouble making money in their often quite large shops. Now one problem will be the same one faced by many retailers: that internet thingy. Lots of people prefer to download music, lots of people buy their CDs, DVDs and games online rather than wandering into a shop. All of which is a bit of a problem if you’re trying to sell those items in shops that cost a lot of money to operate, and HMV are suffering along with everyone else on that.

But HMV have a different problem. In many towns they’ll be in the same vicinity as other shops selling the same range of goods – typically Virgin. Now a company with even the smallest hint of a clue might check prices in rival retailers and make sure that they were at least matching them, and beating them wherever possible. HMV, it seems, think differently. They appear to have a policy of charging more than their rivals wherever possible, presumably in the hope that people won’t notice.

Take newly released CDs, for instance. Without really trying, you should be able to get most new CDs online for a whisker under £9. Shops like Virgin will sell most of them for around £10, sometimes less. Now £10 is what I think of as a psychological barrier thingy. Something that’s “under a tenner” is more likely to be bought on impulse than something over £10. Or if it’s only £1 above internet prices, you might well decide to buy it there and then rather than wait for delivery.

New releases in the Newcastle branch of HMV are often seen at around £12. The new Arcade Fire album was £9.99 in Virgin and £12.99 a short distance along Northumberland Street in HMV. Could that be why they’re not doing so well?

Apparently they’re planning a radical review of the business. As radical as not charging 30% more than their rivals for the same item? We shall see…