Merchandising: Stores Deliver ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Exclusives

After weeks of touting preorders for Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, retailers finally had the discs available for consumers March 31 despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Among the big three retailers, Target and Walmart stores remain open, with adjusted hours, since they offer groceries and other essential household goods.

Best Buy stores are closed for walk-ins but are offering shipping for online orders, as well as curbside pickups for local shoppers.

Target’s $34.99 Rise of Skywalker 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack comes with a gallery booklet and an exclusive bonus DVD with the featurette “The Final Alliance,” a chronicle of the various starships used in the final battle.

Target’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Walmart offered the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack as a limited edition with fold-out artwork packaging for $34.96.

Walmart’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Best Buy has its customary $34.99 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook treatment for Rise of Skywalker.

Best Buy’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Steelbook

In addition, Best Buy has the exclusive U.S. distribution of the $249.99 nine-movie, 27-disc “Skywalker Saga” boxed set that includes a 4K disc, a Blu-ray disc and a bonus disc for each of the episodic films. Rogue One and Solo are available on 4K separately.

Best Buy’s exclusive ‘Star Wars’ The Skywalker Saga’ boxed set

Speaking of 4K, Disney also released all the films not yet available on 4K as three-disc standalone combo packs (ie episodes one through seven and Rogue One are new on 4K, while Last Jedi and Solo remain available on 4K from their earlier combo pack releases, though Disney seems set to re-release them with new packaging once existing inventory thins out). The retailers had them for $29.99 each.

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The online Disney Movie Club was offering various membership discounts such as 50% off all items in the order plus free shipping with the purchase of one at the full price ($34.99), which lowers the average to under $20 when all eight 4K combo packs are purchased together. DMC VIP members (those who fulfilled the membership requirement of buying five full-price discs previously) qualify for a 60% discount, pushing the average price to under $17.

Among other promotions, Target was offering a buy-two-get-one-free mix-and-match sale on video games.

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Merchandising: ‘1917’ Tops New Product Releases

With coronavirus sheltering orders across the United States impacting consumers’ ability to shop, stores are still selling new DVD and Blu-ray titles.

Best Buy may have closed its showrooms, but it still offers online shopping and curbside pickup for local shoppers.

Best Buy also had the only notable exclusive being touted by the big retailers among the week’s new releases: a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack of Universal Pictures’ 1917 at $32.99.

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Target and Walmart stores remain open because they sell groceries, classifying them as “essential” businesses exempt from shelter-in-place orders.

Neither were promoting exclusives among the week’s new titles, but they continued to take preorders for the March 31 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Target’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Target’s edition at $34.99 comes with a gallery booklet and an exclusive bonus disc.

Walmart’s ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

The Walmart edition features fold out packaging containing images from the film for $34.96.

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Walmart’s ‘Bad Boys’ Blu-ray triple feature

Walmart, which halted next-day delivery for online orders due to high demand, is also taking preorders on a Blu-ray containing all three “Bad Boys” movies for $29.96 due April 28.

Best Buy Reverses Course, Closes Stores to Walk-In Customers

Best Buy, one of the top sellers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, has reversed course and is temporarily closing its stores to walk-in customers due to concerns about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Across the country these past several days, you have come to our stores to buy the technology and household necessities that are so valuable at a time like this,” the company said in an emailed letter to customers March 21. “We remain determined to continue to serve you and are announcing today a new way of making our stores accessible while even further enhancing customer and employee safety.

“Beginning Sunday, March 22, we will offer contactless curbside service at all locations across the country where state or local laws allow. Rather than ask you to come into our stores, any items you order on or the Best Buy app will be delivered to your car curbside. If, for any reason, you didn’t order the product in advance and the product is in stock in the store, one of our employees will be more than happy to go get it in the store and sell it to you while you remain in your car. … Only employees will be allowed in the store, but we are determined to serve you as fully as we can.”

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The company says it is also suspending “currently scheduled installations, haul-aways or repairs for large items like refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers and TVs.”

And beginning Monday, March 23, Best Buy says, “we will no longer deliver these large products into your home and will, instead, offer free doorstep delivery. This means we will take the item as close as we possibly can to the front door of your home without bringing it inside.”

Best Buy also said demand for consumer electronics used in the home has surged as workers and school children in many parts of the country are advised to work and study from home.

“We are seeing a surge in demand across the country for products that people need to work or learn from home, as well as those products that allow people to refrigerate or freeze food,” CEO Corie Barry said in a statement. Barry didn’t disclose the percentage increase in demand.

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Separately, Barry said that despite quarter-to-date sales being ahead of projections, Best Buy is pulling its full-year fiscal guidance because of the increased uncertainty related to the potential impacts of COVID-19 and resulting temporary changes in operations.

To bolster its cash position and maximize flexibility in the fluid environment, Best Buy on March 19 drew the full amount of its $1.25 billion revolving credit facility. This is in addition to the approximately $2 billion in cash and cash equivalents the company held. The company has also suspended all share repurchases.


Best Buy Stores to Remain Open, Bucking Retail Trend

With gyms, restaurants and bars shut down in cities across the United States — and the world — a growing number of retailers are also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by shutting their doors temporarily.

Department store chains Macy’s, Nordstrom, and JCPenney have shut their stores for at least two weeks.

Also in the dark are Apple, Urban Outfitters, Under Armour, Lululemon, Sephora, and Ulta Beauty, among others. Effective March 19, so is Dick’s Sporting Goods, an 850-store chain that this week has seen a run on free weights and dumbbells now that most gyms are closed.

Best Buy, which remains one of the top sellers of DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, is bucking the trend.

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In an email sent late March 18, CEO Corie Barry writes, “Right now, our role as a consumer electronics retailer is rapidly shifting and we are striving to make the best decisions with two goals in mind: The first is to protect our customers, employees and their families. The second is to do the best we can to serve the millions of Americans who are looking to us for increasingly vital technology tools to stay connected, as well as household necessities.

“You are turning to us for help getting the technology that allows you to continue running a small business or shift your usual job from an office setting to your home. You are turning to us to help your children continue their education outside of their classroom. And, you are turning to us for necessities that allow you to store and prepare food for your family.”

As a result, Barry writes, Best Buy stores will remain open, although the chain is “shortening our store hours this week, and on March 23, [we] will begin permitting only a small number of customers into the store at a time so we can enforce the necessary social distancing guidelines. We are also working to enhance our curbside service and strongly recommend you take advantage of this whenever possible.”


Merchandising: It’s a ‘Jumanji’ Jungle Out There

The big three retail chains each had exclusive promotions for two of the big titles released to stores March 17.

The most notable was for Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level.

Best Buy’s ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ Steelbook

Best Buy had its typical Steelbook edition of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack for $32.99.

Walmart released a 3-movie “Jumanji” DVD collection containing Next Level, its 2017 predecessor Welcome to the Jungle, and the 1995 original Jumanji for $29.96.

Target didn’t have an exclusive edition, but did offer a free $10 gift card with the purchase of the new movie on disc with the $19.99 Jumanji board game.

‘Jumanji’ board game

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The other notable title was Warner’s animated Superman: Red Son.

Target’s ‘Superman: Red Son’ Steelbook

Target offered a Blu-ray/DVD Steelbook at $19.99 with the same cover art as the regular edition. The exclusive appeared to be available only in stores as it wasn’t listed on Target’s website.

Best Buy had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack with a pack-on Soviet Superman figurine for $29.99.

Walmart had a DVD-only edition of Superman: Red Son for $14.96. Only the Blu-ray and 4K editions were released wide.

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Another exclusive at Walmart involved the 2016 animated movie Trolls, in the form of a gift set containing a Trolls DVD and a troll wig. The set is timed with the release of Universal’s Trolls World Tour movie.

Merchandising: Declassifying ‘Spies in Disguise’ Exclusives

Best Buy and Target offered exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray versions of the new animated movie Spies in Disguise, which hit shelves March 10 from Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Best Buy offered the film with Steelbook packaging for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Spies in Disguise’ Steelbook

Target had a $32.99 limited edition with a pack-in “Super Spy Training Manual” booklet.

Target’s ‘Spies in Disguise’ limited edition with booklet

Another notable promotion during the week involved Walmart offering a code for exclusive behind-the-scenes content of Disney’s Frozen II with the purchase of Sparkling Ice bottled vitamin water.

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Merchandising: Best Buy Offers Steelbooks for Latest Pixar 4K Batch

With a light slate of new releases for March 3, Best Buy offered Steelbooks for several Pixar titles being released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray by Disney.

The Pixar catalog titles making their way to 4K Ultra HD include A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, Monsters, Inc., Monsters University and Up. The Steelbook combo packs were offered at $34.99 each.

Among other titles, Walmart had a double feature with the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Blu-ray paired with the new digital release of Jumanji: The Next Level on Vudu.

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Best Buy CFO: Coronavirus ‘Very Fluid Situation’ Impacting First Half-Year Results

Best Buy Feb. 27 said it expects interruptions from the global coronavirus outbreak to impact first half-year store results.

Like many retailers, Best Buy generates much of its product inventory from China, which, as the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus, has seen many manufacturing facilities shuttered over worker safety concerns.

“This is a very fluid situation, which makes it difficult to determine exact financial impacts from disruptions in supply chain,” CFO Matt Bilunas said in a statement.

The CFO said the retailer views the situation as a relatively short-term disruption that would not impact Best Buy’s long-term strategy and initiatives.

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“Our guidance ranges for both Q1 and the full-year 2021 [upwards of 2%] reflect our best estimates of the impacts at this time,” Bilunas said.

Separately, the nation’s largest CE retailer disclosed that fourth-quarter (ended Feb. 1) same-store entertainment sales in the United States fell nearly 22% to $1.1 billion compared to a 2.7% increase to $1.3 billion in the previous-year period.

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The entertainment segment includes DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software.

The nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer said entertainment represented 8% of $13.8 billion domestic revenue, down from 10% of $13.5 billion in Q4 of 2019.

Internationally, same-store entertainment sales dropped nearly 17% to $94 million from a 2.7% drop to $117 million during the previous-year period. Entertainment represented 7% of international revenue compared to 9% in 2019.

Overall, domestic revenue increased 2.6% versus last year. The increase was driven by comparable sales growth of 3.4%, partially offset by the loss of revenue from store closures in the past year.

The largest comparable sales growth drivers were headphones, computing, appliances, mobile phones and tablets. These drivers were partially offset by declines in the gaming category.

Domestic online revenue of $3.52 billion increased 18.7% on a comparable basis due to higher average order values, increased traffic and higher conversion rates. As a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue increased to 25.4% versus 21.9% last year.

Merchandising: A Flurry of Options for ‘Frozen II’ and ‘Knives Out’

Retailers lined up exclusives for two big Feb. 25 home video releases: Disney’s Frozen II and Lionsgate’s Knives Out.

For Frozen II, Target offered a couple of exclusives. First was a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack containing a filmmaker gallery and storybook, at $34.99.

Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray with storybook
Target’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K box art

The other was a Blu-ray Disc double feature of the two “Frozen” movies, at $39.99.

Best Buy offered a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Frozen II for $34.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Frozen II’ Steelbook

Walmart’s Frozen II 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray had a slipcover with exclusive box art, and the combo pack came with two exclusive Vudu digital bonus featurettes, “Frozen Fashion” and “Olaf: Older and Wiser.” The set is listed online at $32.96 but some stores had it for $29.96.

Walmart’s ‘Frozen II’ 4K Blu-ray

For Knives Out, had the Blu-ray for $19.99 packed with a copy of the unpublished novel mentioned in the movie.

Target’s ‘Knives Out’ Blu-ray with bonus booklet

Best Buy had a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook of Knives Out for $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Knives Out’ Steelbook

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Merchandising: The Battle for ‘Midway’ Exclusives

Target and Best Buy each offered an exclusive Steelbook edition of Lionsgate’s Midway Blu-ray release Feb. 18.

Best Buy, for which the Steelbook edition is the most typical exclusive, had the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Midway at $29.99.

Best Buy’s ‘Midway’ 4K Ultra HD Steelbook

Target’s Steelbook was for the regular Blu-ray edition of the war film, offered at $24.99.

Target’s ‘Midway’ Blu-ray Steelbook

Walmart also had an exclusive for Midway, though it was more low key, pairing the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack at $24.96 with a special bonus digital copy of another World War II film, Emperor, redeemable through Vudu.

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For another WWII film released during the week, the news wasn’t so much about retailer promotions as it was which stores were even carrying it. The Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit, from 20th Century Fox, wasn’t even stocked in a few Walmarts. And Target wasn’t offering the 4K Ultra HD version in stores. Copies of the film in all formats were still available on the chains’ websites.

Among other notable deals for the week, Target offered 20% off select Disney movies.