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Weep for HMV and Blockbuster if you must, but your business might be next

24 Jan 2013
V3 reporter Dan Worth

The high street as we know it is closing. Since the turn of the year major retailers Jessops, Blockbusters and HMV have all gone bust.

This has led to great outpourings of sadness and nostalgia for their demise, with many reminiscing about the first CD they bought at HMV, their first 50p VHS rewind fee, or the first time a camera salesperson gave them an exasperated look for daring to ask a question.

I, though, won't be weeping for these closures. It is, naturally, a very sad day for the employees, and I feel for anyone cast into the New Year with an unexpected job search against thousands of other unlucky souls.

But, the times are changing. Anyone working for such stores should have been expecting such an announcement for a while now. All around them the internet has encroached and eroded their business, openly and brazenly.

I, like many others, would occasionally wander into HMV, look at the products, spy something I liked, grab my smartphone, Google it, find it on Amazon or similar for half the price and order it there and then. Sometimes while still in the shop. I believe this is called "showrooming".

I'm aware that I'm part of these high street stores' problems. And I have, albeit at a cost to myself, restrained my showrooming activity with a concerted effort to try and buy from local shops and avoid ordering from Amazon all the time - but such actions are mostly futile gestures against the web.

The web has changed everything. Any advance in technology changes things and the lesson from history is that any advance in technology that improves our lives will win out. The web is no different.

In the fact it's probably the most far-reaching, rapidly evolving, world-changing technology we've ever invented.

As such, the real debate that should arise from the demise of long-standing retail giants is not why they failed (it's the web economy, stupid), but who's next for the chop.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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