Analysis: ‘Specialist retailers may find their niche has become a tomb’

IN A flat retail market for every “winner” there has to be a “loser”, and Jessops is merely the first of the casualties to emerge in 2013, writes Nick Bubb.

IN A flat retail market for every “winner” there has to be a “loser”, and Jessops is merely the first of the casualties to emerge in 2013, writes Nick Bubb.

Many of these will be specialist retailers which find that their niche has become a tomb, in a world where consumers are increasingly happy to order online from goliaths such as Amazon, which will deliver low-priced goods with ruthless efficiency.

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Online competition was certainly a problem for Jessops, but the main cause of its demise has been the collapse in the market for cameras, as smartphones and tablet devices with increasingly high-quality cameras rapidly become the way in which consumers take photos and videos and
post them onto social media.

There is still a market for professional photographers, but it is not big enough to support a chain of nearly 200 high street stores such as Jessops. The Japanese camera manufacturers will be aghast at the loss of a specialist UK distribution channel, but they have adaptation problems of their own.

Ironically, the final nail in Jessops’ coffin at Christmas may have been that the aforementioned smartphones and tablet devices became the gift of choice in many families and households.

• Nick Bubb is an independent retail analyst.