Music shop suffers at hands of internet

AN INDEPENDENT music retailer is closing after shop sales were hit by the effect of the internet.

Richard Smith

AN INDEPENDENT music retailer is closing after shop sales were hit by the effect of the internet.

Celia and Sebastian Allaby will close WrapCD in the High Street, Aldeburgh, when their stock runs out after they saw a drop in sales as customers switched to buying online.

They are worried that ''the muscle of the internet'' will have a similar effect on some other retailers and that customers will lose the pleasure of meeting shop retailers and talking about purchases.

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In recent months Aldeburgh has lost a hair salon, a garage and an off licence and there is concern that the High Street is being overtaken by clothes shops, many of which are catering for visitors.

The couple first opened their shop in the foyer of Aldeburgh Cinema in 2001. They had had careers in education and, although they did not have a retail background, they decided they could run a shop and utilise Mr Allaby's growing interest in music.

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In 2004 they moved to their current premises and recently trade started suffering.

Mrs Allaby said: ''We noticed a significant change when broadband came to Aldeburgh which was very recently. A lot of older people in Aldeburgh became computer literate, they found that CDs could be delivered to their door and they didn't have to worry about being in to receive them.

''In retail people are browsing in shops and they going online to buy. Also, CDs are no longer at the cutting edge of music technology although because our customer profile is slightly older we have not been hit substantially by downloads from the internet.''

She added: ''People are still buying CDs, especially in the classical market, but the buying habits have changed and to go online is so easy. What the customer misses out on is the friendly expert and the possibility of stumbling upon something you haven't tried before.

''We do have some wonderfully loyal customers and we know they will be sad to see us disappear. We too are sad - we wouldn't be closing if we didn't have to.

''But it is inevitable. We are not big enough to have an internet presence to make our business viable on line and we are just defeated by it.''

The couple would like retail to operate on a ''level playing field.'' They buy from 15 different suppliers and are at a disadvantage compared with the buying power of big outlets.

Mr and Mrs Allaby have to price their items with VAT included, which online stores do not. ''A CD album that we sell for £15.99, we buy from the distributor for £9.15.

''It might be being sold at the supermarket or on the web for £7.99. When we have removed VAT we will make £4.46 - we have to sell thousands of CDs like that to make a living,'' said Mrs Allaby.

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