Monday, May 03, 2010

HMV returns to slow decline

For twelve months or so, HMV has been posting some positive-sounding figures showing growth in its high street sales. And management were happy to suggest that opening cinemas upstairs, and changing the lighting, and inviting kids in to play computer games and so on were the reason.

Cynics wondered if rising sales weren't merely because Woolworths and Zavvi had closed and WH Smiths had quietly dropped what remains of their record department.

Now the effect of all the competition going has starting to recede into the past, we can start to see who was right.

Clue - it's not the management:

The group, which operates 400 HMV stores and some 300 Waterstone's book stores, said like-for-like sales across the group were down more than 10% in the first four months of the year. However, HMV's outlets in Britain and Ireland performed far worse. Like-for-like sales in those outlets were down 13.2%.

Waterstones, you'll remember, is still enjoying a fillip from the closure of Borders.

Still, it's not like HMV don't have a plan:
Sales of music, DVDs and computer games have gone into reverse at high street chain HMV and the retailer is hoping that big forthcoming releases such as the movie Avatar and a new Amy Winehouse album to stop the rot.

You're waiting for a new Amy Winehouse album to save you? That's a bit like Labour keeping its fingers crossed that the Ghost Of John Smith is going to turn up to swing the marginals on Thursday morning.

Apart from anything, it's not like Avatar DVDs aren't available everywhere, is it? I can just about see that you might think "I need a Fiery Furnaces CD, I wonder if HMV has it?", but Avatar DVDs are actually being stapled into people's faces when they go to Tesco for the weekly shop. Nobody is going to make a special journey for them. You can't rely on someone else's loss leader to be your USP.

Having tried being a games shop, a youth club, a booking office and a cinema, there's another creaky sounding attempt at reinvention:
[HMV] today announced a venture into the cut-throat world of fashion, or what it called "entertainment-inspired clothing".

Don't they already flog tshirts with band logos on?