I went looking for some cheap memory and printer cartridges this past weekend and thought I’d head into one of the two central London Computer Fairs/Markets. It’s been at least a year since I last visited one. In years gone by I was always more of a regular visitor to such events as at that stage internet prices were still higher than those that could be found on the tables of my local fair.
With highly competitive pricing from online computer component retailers such as OverClockers and Scan in the past year or so I haven’t felt the need to visit the computer fairs – even when factoring in the cost of delivery. This extra cost being worth it due to the convenience that shopping online offers
Though what you don’t get when buying online is the atmosphere, hustle and bustle of the market. Browsing the expanse of tables looking for that high-street beating bargain price or obscure imported computer gizmo or add-on that you never knew you needed until you saw it.
It came as something of a shock when I got to my local central London computer market only to find a significantly reduced number of sellers occupying the basement of this inner city university venue. Even more noticeable was the lack of buyers. It was the shadow of its former self.
It used to be a case of being pushed along between sellers stalls by the wave of people coming to buy. During this visit unfortunately all it was missing was the tumble weed blowing through the venue..
Upon reflection this shouldn’t really have come as a surprise as times have changed and I suspect people (such as myself) are much more inclined to shop around online for a better price and claim back their Saturday mornings instead of frequenting their local computer market.
I should mention however that it is quite likely that part of the reason for the lack of buyers is down to the current credit crunch/recession though it was obvious that there were other factors at play due to the sheer lack of numbers.
I’d imagine the high costs of renting central London hall space is not cheap so how long will the Computer Markets be able to sustain this level of buyers and lack of activity? I hope things pick up for them and I will make an effort to visit when I need any replacement printer cartridges, etc as it’d be a sad day and an end of an era for us ‘build your own PC’ geeks if they were to close.
If anyone from overseas (ie: not the UK) has links to their local Computer Fair site then please feel to add them in the comments section below – I’ll then add them to the list.