In a story similar to HMV, Jessops and Comet – the film rental chain Blockbuster is going into administration. Online retailers really are ringing the bell on high street stores.
It was today announced that the film and video game rental chain has appointed administrators. The accountancy firm Deloitte will now take over the day-to-day running of Blockbuster, which has 528 stores across the UK.
Got Blockbuster vouchers – what are your rights?
Blockbuster will continue to honour gift cards and credit acquired through its trade-in scheme. As for vouchers you’ve bought through the store yourself, that’s currently unclear. It would be wise to spend your Blockbuster vouchers, points and credit as soon as possible.
If you owe Blockbuster rental money, this debt won’t be wiped if the chain goes under – you’ll still need to pay your bill. Oh, and you’ll also need to return your rentals when due.
Credits roll for Blockbuster
So what went wrong? Deloitte squarely places it on increased competition from online retailers and a shift to film streaming. That’s the crux of it really – not only is it cheaper to buy DVDs, Blu-rays and video games from online retailers, it’s even cheaper to stream them.
I subscribe to the film-streaming service Lovefilm, paying a fiver a month to watch as many films as I like. Of course, I’m limited to their online choice and the streaming quality isn’t great, but it suits me. And if I fancy something with a bit more panache, I can get LoveFilm to post Blu-rays to me for another fiver per month. Blockbuster actually competes with this service, offering the very same unlimited postal rentals for £9.99 a month. This may be where the company may find a future, with Deloitte confident that the retailer will find a new buyer.
Whether Blockbuster’s new owner will help the chain muscle its way in-between LoveFilm and Netflix is another question. Of course, that’s if it gets a new buyer at all.
The end of entertainment on the high street?
Still, I can’t remember the last time I stepped into a Blockbuster store to rent a film. Why browse shelves to find something to rent, when you can browse the digital shelves online?
There’s something about that sentence that makes me sad. Is there really no more room for entertainment and electrical stores on the high street? Are we just going to sit at home moving our PC mouse pointers, our fingers on tablets, and our thumbs on video game controllers to pick the content and products we want to spend our cash on?