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The ABC has announced it is to close all 50 of its ABC Shops across Australia, migrating all of its retail activity to online. The closures of the ABC’s retail outlets will see up to 300 staff made redundant. The planned closures will be staggered, as individual outlets come to the end of their current leases. The bulk of sales at ABC Shops comes from the sale of DVDs and CDs, including all those released on the ABC Classics label. However, a growing trend in consumer habits that has favoured online retail, downloads and streaming services has seen a significant reduction in ABC Shop revenue across its network of stores.
Mark Scott, the Managing Director of the ABC said in an interview on RN Breakfast that ABC Shops had been running at a loss and that the ABC “can’t be in a situation where we’re taking money away from broadcast to prop up this retail chain,” adding, “we’ve run the ABC shop for 35 years, and we know millions of people love shopping in them… but it is not possible for us to run these business profitably into the future.”
Acknowledging that it was “a grim outlook” for the 300 staff set to lose their jobs in the planned closure, Scott said the majority of the ABC Shop network would remain open until Father’s Day, with other outlets remaining open until Christmas.
This latest cut by the national broadcaster is among a number of drastic money-saving measures instituted by the ABC in the past eight months after $254 million was slashed from the broadcaster’s state subsidy by the Abbott Government. More than 400 broadcast staff across the entire corporation were made redundant after Mark Scott announced major changes to the ABC in November last year. This included significant cuts to ABC Classic FM, which has reduced its number of live broadcasts, replaced its overnight programming with a streamed playlist from its online digital service ABC Classic 2, and cut some of its programmes altogether such as New Music Up Late and Sunday Live.