HMV faces difficult Christmas as sales slump

HMV is suffering a difficult Christmas period. Photo: PA

Noises coming from HMV today are not good.

The twelve days of Christmas look to be a fraught period for HMV - it says this coming festive stretch is full of "material uncertainties."

It has to increase the pace of sales to avoid running into banking difficulties. And it is vital to keep on good terms with your bank if you owe £176 million, as they do.

The 91-year-old chain said like-for-like retail sales in music and DVDs fell by 16 percent despite growing its market share.

  • Total sales fell 13.5% - despite loads of promotions and discounting
  • Like-for-like sales fell 10.2% in the 26 weeks to October 27
  • Shares tumbled 39%
  • HMV reported a loss of £37.3m
  • The chain has 238 stores

Behind this particular tale of business gloom is a much broader picture, and one most of us will recognise.

Christmas gets later every year, as people wait for discounts. It's like a game of dare with the retailer - a question of who will blink first.

All that buzz about the Olympics being good for business did not pan out at HMV, where sales in the first half of the year were hit by the light release schedule, as suppliers held back on significant product launches due to the Olympics.

For HMV staff this is going to be worrying news - bad sales figures are never pleasant but are perhaps even worse at this time of year.

But bosses are saying closing more stores or placing the business into administration is not "part of our plan".