/ Shopping, Technology

Blockbuster next on the chopping block

Blockbuster video store

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’s turning out to be the month that Britain’s high street waves goodbye to many of its biggest brands. Jessops, HMV, Blockbuster – who’s next?

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?


“Online retailers really are ringing the bell on high street stores.” I don’t think online retailers are fully to blame. I stopped using my local town centre many many years ago when the council decided to turn all local street parking into pay and display, thus turning the what’s was a free meaning the half mile walk into something I had to pay for. That’s what turned me into an online shopper.

Although online retailers aren’t without their own issues, play.com will stop selling their own stock in the coming months (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-20953357) , they think their “marketplace” is a winner, well not for me. So my choice is even more limited going forward.

I’m just surprised that the play story hasn’t been covered more widely on the news.

john d says:
16 January 2013

Im just concerned that those who are less internet proficient will lose out here.
And also amazed that that many buyers are prepared to wait for delivery. A shop alows instant purchase after all.


You’ve got a good point there – the less internet savvy could be left out. But as for waiting for delivery, we do have streaming, which is more instant than even going to a shop (you don’t have to leave your sofa).


Patrick – I wonder if those who are less proficient with the Internet will have even heard of streaming. Maybe they just want a couple of VHS tapes.

Ian B says:
16 January 2013

High streets should not be regarded as ‘sacred cows’ If people wanted to keep them viable they would be shopping there and not using superstores,online and retail park facilities. In my view it’s a natural evolution and should be allowed to take it’s course.

neil says:
16 January 2013

hi there customer service was better it might stop people using online retailers like love film


I hadn’t really thought about customer service, but it is of course important. If they could really offer a service that online retailers couldn’t even touch, then maybe they’d create a loyal fanbase. Still, I wonder if they felt they didn’t have the money to spend on improving customer service training. Sad but true?


Ian is right about evolution, though high street shops are certainly not the only victims of changing consumer preferences.

Those who did use the retail outlets are obviously hit most badly but we could all suffer. For example, it can be more difficult to persuade an online trader will respect consumer rights.