@Mt Spokane Photography
There is no profit in selling cameras, the profit that keeps stores in business comes from selling accessories like memory cards and filters.
There is quite a bit of profit in selling used cameras, which Jessops stopped doing a few years back. I know this because when I worked for Jessops, I know what we bought stuff in for and what we sold it for. Anything less than 100% mark up and we wouldn't look at it.
We did give a 12 month warranty so there was some risk.
The staff price on used gear was excellent, the staff price on own brand was excellent, the staff price on cameras and lenses was often more than the over the counter price, so as you rightly say the profit doesn't come from new cameras, which are often loss leaders.
Jessops were charging £60 for an SD card that could be bought from a reliable online source for £20. Assuming that the online trader is making some mark up thats at least a 200% mark up. Not uncommon in clothes and food retail, but maybe impractical in a tech savvy market like cameras.
Whilst it's true that Jessops have rent, rates, staff and tax to pay, their biggest problems were:
a legacy of debt from aggressive expansion (where they tried to wipe out all other photo retailers), debt gained easily before the bubble burst, and hard to service in the aftermath
the fact that Canon and Nikon will let anybody sell their kit based on a minimum order criteria, so Tesco or Walmart can order lots and lots of stock and sell it without expert advice along with your milk, but little specialist knowledgable retailers have to think carefully before committing to a $100k account. Tesco and Walmart have bulk buying power, more efficient delivery networks and infrastructure, and so can discount more.
lack of expert staff. I joined as a pt salesman when a student, specialising in video gear and canon stills gear. By the time I left they were bringing in anybody with retail experience, with an empahsis on pumping warranties.
The only good news that can come from this is that the UK shops that deserve our business, who played fair, who have staff with a clue, may have their position consolidated or even strengthened by jessops demise.