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The disappearing high street

In many towns around the UK, popular chain stores are disappearing.
Jun 27,2015
Jackie: They're calling it the death of the high street. In many towns around the UK, popular chain stores are disappearing. So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast we're looking at the shops which are going and the reasons why. Richard, a number of big names have recently closed down, haven't they? 

Richard: Yes um... it started last year, Comet closed and then this year we've seen the disappearance of Blockbuster, HMV and Jessops.

Jackie: So you mention Comet first of all. What kind of shop is that?

Richard: Well it's an electrical specialist shop selling fridges, washingmachines, tellies etc. [It] started off in 1933. 

Jackie: Jessops? 

Richard: Jessops is a camera store and that's quite well established. That was er... opened up in 1935. 

Jackie: But I'm right in saying that HMV is the oldest one, isn't it? 

Richard: Yes. It started off in 1921, selling old vinyl records and now er... an all round music store, selling CDs etc. 

Jackie: And then the newest one, Blockbuster.

Richard: Blockbuster only set up in 1989 as a video rental chain.

Jackie: So two of those have actually closed down and two are inadministration, aren't they Richard?

Richard: Yes

Jackie: Is there something in common? 

Richard: Yes, there are two main issues. Firstly the economic climate. The second thing though, and I think much bigger, is that they have concentrated on their presence um... on the high street and they've forgotten about having a good, online presence. And probably the biggest culprit here is Blockbuster, Blockbuster Video.
Jackie: Now, so let's just remind ourselves how this worked. Um... people go into the shops, right? And they just choose a video, they rent it and bring it back the next day.
Richard: Yes
Jackie: Now why did that not work?
Richard: Well, that's because of the way people changed their shopping habits. There was a huge explosion of online selling and other companies saw the gap in the market.
Jackie: You mean to say that you couldn't get DVDs or even download from a Blockbuster website?
Richard: No. Other companies saw the gap in the market. And um... they have exploded and Blockbuster has just been left behind.
Jackie: So they just didn't move with the times.

Richard: Exactly

Jackie: HMV has suffered in the same way, hasn't it, Richard? In terms of the role of the Internet when buying music but um... I think in addition to that HMV has had fierce competition from supermarkets and HMV just didn't realise that this competition from supermarkets, the possibility of buying cheap CDs online and of course downloading music online, would be the death of them. They too, didn't move with the times.
Richard: Exactly. People just downloaded music from iTunes rather than going into the HMV store. Jessops suffered from the online boom as well. And also the fact that um... they're a camera retailer but now most people take their photos with their mobile phones. So Jackie, what happened to Comet?
Jackie: Well, Comet did have um... an online presence but I think one of their problems was that the connection between their website and what could... people could buy in their shops, that wasn't streamlined enough. But they did have an additional problem and that is the slump in the housing market.
Richard: Yes. So people weren't buying washing machines, fridges, those sorts of things.
Jackie: Yes, a real drop in sales.
Richard: And in fact, apparently, there are 140 other UK chain stores er... in trouble.
Jackie: Mmm. Let's see what 2013 has to bring for them.