45 per cent of the UK's game stores closed up in 2012, according to a survey conducted by PwC and the Local Data Company (via the BBC). That's part of a culture-wide run on brick-and-mortar retail which saw an estimated 7,337 shops in total call it quits - an average of 20 stores a day, every day of the year.
Videogames retailers were by far the biggest losers - health food was the second hardest hit market sector, with 25 per cent of outlets dropping the shutters for good. Conversely, payday loan shops, pawnbrokers and poundshops all saw a significant rise in store numbers. Hmmm. I think that might be the most depressing paragraph I've written for quite some time.
Several major UK electronics chains have gone under in the past 12 months, with HMV entering administration in January and Blockbusters following a few days later. Specialist retailer GAME handed its assets over to administrators last spring, but has thankfully lived to tell the tale.
It's no surprise, given these developments, that retailers are so narked about rumours that next generation consoles may introduce used game blocks - the second-hand market has proven vital to the fortunes of US giant Gamestop in particular. Such (strictly unconfirmed) developments aside, the launch of the new Xbox (and "PS4", whatever that is) should give retail a shot in the arm - storefronts remain an important part of the hardware ecosystem, at least.
What do you think? Is this the end of brick-and-mortar retail? Or will the remaining brands and stores survive the fallout? Thanks to MCV for spotting this.