Can retailers afford to stock headphones anymore?
After a bout of serious man flu and prolonged late night listening with my old Sennheiser HD570's I decided that my late Christmas present from the wife would be a new set of cans.
I'm a big fan of Sennheiser so was looking at the 600's or 650's.
I scoured the net and the best prices seemed to be £199 and £249 respectively, from a reputable music (not hifi) dealer from Jersey that I have used many times in the past for DVD's.
Off to Manchester I went with wedge in hand, only to find from all of the dealers (these guys are part of hifi chains and I have used them extensively in the past) that they didn't really like to keep any phones at this price band in stock as they could not compete at all with internet boys. I quoted the internet price for the 600's and was shown that they could only buy them in at this price...
The general view from the shops was that most people are now internet savvy. They will demo a pair of cans if in stock, then buy them off the net. Any higher ppriced phones gather dust on their shelves and there does not tend to be a big selection if stocked at all.
People are willing to take the chance on headphones (that have probably had a WHF review anyway) and buying without a demo. I'll be doing the same.
The manufacturers - particularly sennheiser need to address this. I looked to buy last summer, but was put off by the large price hike due to the exchange rate. With a recession still on, these guys should be looking to reduce their prices. Notice that now pound has improved, the prices haven't dropped again. Manufacturers need to support their dealers. I get the impression particularly with Sennheiser that they are now more interested in the bulk selling of sub £20 headphones to the ipod generation.
Shame really. Good news is I ended up making an impulse purchase of a Sonos S5 for the kitchen and then signed up to Napster. Music now fills the house and the wife loves it too. So much more accessible (but obviously not as good as) than the ZP90 connected to my hifi. Only problem is the kids love to change the tracks from their ipod touches whilst not in the room......