Entering the store, the console deals were prominently placed on a centre pillar, although on second look, this area only featured the Sony 40GB PS3 and Nintendo Wii consoles. There was a good choice but the Nintendo Wii had a large sign saying ‘AWAITING STOCK’.
When asked about Wii stock, the store assistant replied: “We’re getting between ten and 30 consoles a week, but the closer we get to Christmas I can’t see that level being kept up.”
The sales person started by showing me a Sony PS3 40GB bundle deal with FIFA ‘08 and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw for £329. But the software titles could not be changed, and we were confined to the advertised bundle deals. We moved onto the Xbox 360, of which there “plenty on both standard and elite editions.”
The sales person clearly favoured these two consoles – bundle deals included a premium Xbox 360 with Halo 3 for £249 and a premium 360 with Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed, Pro Evo 2008 and Smackdown ‘08, priced £319.
Store staff felt confident that supply would meet demand on both Sony PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. If I wanted to buy a Nintendo Wii, there would be no more pre-booking, it would be on a first come first served basis.
ZAVVI - 9/10
The gaming section filled almost half of the upper level. There were four pods for each console, and everything seemed available, except the Wii.
For such a big store it was actually difficult to find a member of staff. “Go for the Xbox 360,” was the advice. “There is a great selection of games and they tend to be cheaper too.”
He took us over to the gaming section, talking through the available options. We firstly approached a stand where Nintendo Wii bundle deals were displayed. “This is a good machine but limited stocks mean it’s getting a lot of bad press,” he stated. It seemed that he genuinely liked the machine but was bored of the number of consumer requests.
We then moved onto the PS3. “If you’re thinking about getting a Blu-Ray player, then this is your machine.” He gave me leaflet information on a bundle deal which consisted of a PS3, one game and a Blu-Ray film, priced at £350.
In his opinion, the best way of deciding which console to buy would boil down to exactly what it was that I was after; pure gaming, a part-time high definition DVD player, or a mixture of both. But that still left the question of which HD format to choose.
As we approached the Xbox 360 section, we quizzed him on stock availability for Christmas. He confidently told me: “We are fine on everything you see in-store now – besides the Wii.”
He also felt the need to tell me that he owned the Xbox 360 Elite. For his money, the Halo pack represented a great deal at £279 or Premium Pack and a game, priced £290.
HMV - 7/10
This store was busy but there were plenty of sales people to help and answer questions. One staff member said that there were, “No Wiis at the moment, and it’s difficult to say when or how many we will be getting in next. We had 30 in today and within an hour they were all gone.
“If you’re looking for more than just a games console and you have a TV that can benefit from Blu-Ray then Sony’s PS3 is a good choice but overall I would choose the Xbox 360. The Nintendo Wii is a good machine, but you’re better off with an Xbox 360 or PS3 as they are less gimmicky.”
We were then pointed towards the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD film sections. We asked him which he thought was best: “My choice would be Xbox 360,” he replied. He thought that any game played on the PS3 could be equalled or perform better on the Xbox 360, adding that the games were cheaper with a wider choice. He thought it was better to wait until nearer Christmas on the choice of bundle deals due to the options changing frequently.
Whilst he conceded Sony’s PS3 console was a good machine, he thought that unless I was going to make use of Blu-Ray, it would probably be a good idea to stick with an Xbox 360.
JOHN LEWIS - 6/10
We found it difficult locating the gaming section, however, with a little help we were shown to the right area. There wasn’t a huge range; this is obviously not a product of choice for this retailer. A shelf unit displayed a few software titles.
We explained our shopping criteria, adding that we didn’t notice any Nintendo Wii consoles anywhere. “Yeah, unfortunately we won’t be seeing any in-store anytime soon,” said the store assistant. “The demand is so high, that they will only be available on our online store and that’s whenever stock is available.”
We asked for advice on other options available, and were offered the PS3. “This is a great machine especially as it come with a world class Blu-Ray player”, he enthused. “For pure gaming, you may like the Xbox 360 more due to the cheaper games and larger software selection.”
PC WORLD - 4/10
By comparison to what we had just experienced around the corner on Oxford Street, this store was empty. We approached a group of PC World staff who were talking amongst themselves, collectively asking them where we would find their console range. Two of the five pointed to another part of the store and went back to continue their conversation.
After three minutes and a lot of grumbling behind teeth, a helpful chap came over and asked if we needed help. “The Nintendo Wii is cool but trying to find one before Christmas will require time to hunt around and even that may prove difficult,” he said “The PS3 is a good machine, not great though. However, having a Blu-Ray player included makes it a great deal. The Xbox 360 is okay due to its larger and cheaper game selection.”
COMET - 4/10
If we were doing this mystery shop based on service, then Comet would have the edge on PC World for the bottom spot. There was a poster which said, ‘No Nintendo Wii stock until further notice.’ This was obviously one store that has got tired of customers’ requests. Members of staff rushed past me with various things in their hands. I was eventually successful in getting one to stop.
The Xbox 360 Elite bundle with Ghost Recon and Call of Duty was in their opinion the most popular. Since receiving the 40GB Playstation 3, Sony’s console had sold well – but Comet staff believed Xbox 360 system had the edge. As we asked about stock availability, the store assistant was already on her way to continue her task, leaving in a blur.
Another staff member added: “Stock over Christmas for everything except the Nintendo Wii should fine. The deals at the minute are okay but wait until December for the real big guns.”
CURRYS.DIGITAL - 6/10
There were deals for all three home consoles in this store, some of which included software titles and peripherals. The out-of-stock situation on the Wii was glaringly obvious with a large sign: ‘No Stock – Awaiting Further Supply.’ Despite this, the retailer supported Nintendo with a strong bundle that included a Wii, an extra controller, game and memory card, all for £280. Apparently, at least once an hour, someone comes in and asks for a Nintendo Wii console – but the staff were not hopeful of getting any in soon.
The sales assistant turned my interest to other hardware and asked which console, if any, the present recipient already owned. To ensure neutrality, I answered both the PS2 and original Xbox.
He advised stocks of both the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PS3 were “steady”. adding that “Christmas week will be a testing point. You have two choices really. Pound for pound the 40GB PS3 has more for the money with the Pro Evolution ‘08 bundle at £329.99 a sure bet. However, for a wider game choice and cheaper games, go with the Xbox 360.”