I went into Zavvi on Fargate today. It’s one of about thirty remaining in the UK (Meadowhall’s branch closed last week). The administrators claim they have no plans to close the remaining stores. After today’s trip I have no doubt – they do.
In some ways the last days of Zavvi are worse than those of Woolworths, insofar as everyone knew Woolies was on its way out, while Zavvi is still pretending it might not be.
But they haven’t had any new stock since Woolworths/Entertain UK went under. The newest thing in our Zavvi is Britney Spears’ Circus. There are signs on the windows proclaiming they have new stock – looking around at the masses of certain DVDs and CDs it’s clear the new stock is what was left from other branches that have closed.
There are empty shelving units, boxes all over the floor, and umpteen handwritten signs saying 25% off. The problem with their sale, though, is that even with 25% off, everything is still dearer than both their online competition and HMV down the road. If they can’t even undercut HMV in their ‘not closing down, honest’ sale, or find a new districutor to keep the existing shops with even a small supply of new releases, it’s no wonder they’ve gone under.
I did feel sad though. A few years ago, we could buy CDs, DVDs, books, records, T-shirts and the like from Fopp, Music Zone, HMV, Virgin/Zavvi (and Woolies/WHSmith but I don’t really count them due to their crapness), and now there’s just HMV and a few scraggy items in Smiths. It’s not downloads that have killed them – less than 10% of albums are downloaded. The advent of Amazon, Play and CDWow! has certainly played its part, but HMV at least appears to be keeping up with the online stores now (it didn’t for a few years) with its store and web prices being comparable. But Fopp, Music Zone, Woolies and Zavvi/Virgin all made very bad business decisions (if Fopp hadn’t bought Music Zone, when that chain was faltering anyway, it would still probably be here) that didn’t help their causes. I only hope ‘the dog’ has a better way of operating, because I’m guessing, even post-recession, it’ll be the last high street chain of its kind we ever see.