In what has been a turbulent year for British retail, the high street was dealt another mighty blow last week following the announcement that electronics giant Comet was going into administration.
My fondest memories of Comet were going in to watch the giant wall of TVs. Dependent on what time of day I visited, I could watch 50 simultaneous gungings on 'Get Your Own Back' (mentally wishing it was my Dad under that gunge bucket) or during the World Cup, there'd usually be a crowd of salesmen and 'customers' gathered around to watch 50 David Beckham's pelt in 50 match-winning goals simultaneously.
Memory lane aside, analysts are already piling in offer their insight into what has caused Comet to collapse and how this signals yet another foundation collapsing underneath Britain's already unstable high street.
Whilst I agree that certain factors have contributed to Comet's downfall, such as the dazzling glow of the online shopping sphere, i'm not entirely convinced that buying white goods off t'Internet is altogether more popular than going into Comet and checking them out for yourself. Last time I checked, you couldn't pop into Amazon with a tape measure to make sure your new fridge would fit in your kitchen...
One odd justification for Comet's demise was that the lack of first-time buyers had seen a drop in the sale of large appliances and white goods. First time buyer or no first time buyer - if a washing machine wants to break, it will. Washing machines do not discriminate.
I do, however, have a more straightforward theory. Comet are a victim of their own product lines. Namely, the smartphones, computers and tablets that they sell. Compared to 2002 when having a phone with polyphonic ringtones were all the rage - these days, you can buy a phone which doesn't just make phone calls - it takes photos, plays music, does the washing up (...oh alright. It doesn't. But there's probably an app for that).
This makes a lot of their other products, such as cameras, HiFi systems, and MP3 players redundant, if you'll excuse the poorly-timed pun. I will quite readily admit that since the iPod (2005) and iPhone (2009) casually strolled into my life, my lovely point-and-shoot (2008) and CD Stereo (2003) have ceased to even get a look in. Guilty about that? Not really, my handbag is much lighter as a result - though a camera can't go amiss as easily as a small smartphone.
My suggestion for Comet? Don't put all of your eggs in one basket. Ditch the products which customers can buy in every other shop and focus on the ones which they can't. People still want to be able to buy a washing machine, fridge or an oven and leave the shop with it - time waits for no delivery man when there's mouths to feed and clothes to wash. But above all else, please keep the wall of TVs. My childhood would be lost otherwise.
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