Entertainment store HMV, which has three stores in Bournemouth and Poole, has become the latest high street casualty as it called in administrators.
Following discussions among the music retailer's directors, the company last night released a statement announcing it was ceasing trading in ordinary shares immediately - and appointing accountancy giant Deloitte to take control.
It puts 4,000 jobs at risk and means anyone given vouchers or gift cards for Christmas will be unable to use them.
HMV said in a statement: ''The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection, and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect.
''The directors of the company understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business.''
In the run-up to Christmas HMV's boss Trevor Moore warned the entertainment group was in trouble as he revealed the chain was in talks with banks over its future following worse-than-expected trading over the festive period.
The chief executive said market conditions suggested the group, which has 238 stores in the UK and Ireland, would fail to meet expectations for the year to April, so would not meet the terms of its bank loans.
HMV said like-for-like sales fell 10.2% in the 26 weeks to October 27, last year, as its pre-tax loss narrowed to £36.1 million, compared to £50.1 million the previous year.
Shares tumbled 39% after the dismal results were published, giving the retailer a market value of just £10.1 million.
Mr Moore joined the group from camera chain Jessops, which itself went into administration last week at the cost of 1,370 jobs across its 187 stores.
At shops in Bournemouth and Poole, most of the customers had come for a bargain.
Chris Beer, 26, of Salisbury, admitted he has probably contributed to the downfall of the long-standing high-street store.
"I saw it on the news that HMV were going, so I thought I’d go in and see what the sales were about. I’m not a regular customer and I use online if anything. I’m probably the reason why they are not doing so well."
Gillian Doward, 63, of Bournemouth, will sorely miss the presence of HMV in the area. "I either use the Poole store or this one and I thought I’d come in just before it closes down. I’m not online so I use it a lot. I know supermarkets are taking over now but I like the old films you get here in HMV. "
Norman Sharp, 84, originally from Yorkshire was visiting the town on holiday and shops in HMV regularly. "I normally use my local store in Leeds," he said.
"I like jazz, classical and middle of the road music, and use HMV for that. Supermarkets have taken all of their business I think."
Lizzie Mbofana, 19, of Bournemouth paid a one-off visit to the store this morning.
"I came here because it’s closing down. I heard this morning that it was closing so thought I’d come down but I haven’t bought anything. I normally use iTunes and the internet."
Business was brisk at the Poole branch of HMV, with customers queuing to pay at the tills of the shop just inside the Dolphin Centre.
It was impossible to say whether they had been attracted by the post-Christmas sale, or were hoping for bigger bargains now administrators have been called in.
With stores no longer accepting gift vouchers, reactions from customers have been mixed.
One man came in with print-out from the company's website. “It doesn't say anything about gift vouchers. I'm going to shut you down,” he shouted.
A member of staff offered him the telephone number for the company's customer services department, but the customer walked out.
At the HMV store in Castlepoint, other customers spoke of their sadness at the news.
Amanda Kuhne, 34, a full-time mum from Christchurch, said: "It is sad to see this happen, but online has taken over as it is so convenient with free delivery, and it is a lot cheaper. It is just a shame given all the jobs which might be lost."
Martin Stubbings, 26, a supermarket manager from New Milton, said: "I am a bit shocked, I knew they were having problems but it is a big organisation and I thought they would pull through. It is a great store for gifts and it will be a shame if they close for good."
Sarah Hopcroft, 32, a solicitor from Throop, visited the store on the hunt for a bargain. "I have been in HMV this morning to check out the sales but I never really used to shop there, the prices aren’t very competitive. But it is a shame all these high street shops are going down," he said.
Darren Arnell, 23, a restaurant manager from Southbourne, said he enjoyed the experience of browsing in HMV.
"I always enjoyed going into HMV and browsing, and the staff have always been lovely and helpful. They aren’t much more expensive than online and you don’t have to worry about delivery. They have been pushed out of the marketplace and it is a shame."
Martin Lewis has posted an HMV Q&A on gift cards, refunds and job rights, read it here