Merchandising: Amid Another Slow Week, Target Touts ‘Best of 2020 Sale’

The third week of 2021 marked another slow week for new DVD and Blu-ray releases at retail. Best Buy ran its online ad for 4K and Blu-ray discounts for a third consecutive week.

Target, which last week didn’t list any DVD or Blu-ray news in its weekly ad circular, this week devoted a page to a “Best of 2020 Sale.” Most of the space was devoted to books, but there were four Blu-rays listed: Disney’s Frozen II and Mulan at $22.99, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at $19.99, and Universal’s Trolls World Tour at $24.99.

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Merchandising: Lack of Big New Titles Leave Retailers With Limited Options Early in 2021

A lack of major new releases heading into 2021 has left retailers with few options for refreshing their DVD and Blu-ray sections.

Some, such as Best Buy, continue to promote catalog sales on its website, such as Blu-ray Discs as low as $7.99. Best Buy did present the week’s modest slate of new releases, but without any exclusives attached to them.

The same can’t be said of Target, where some stores aren’t even bothering to update new-release shelves a timely fashion on Tuesdays. The chain’s Jan. 10 advertising circular didn’t include any section for DVD or Blu-ray releases, though it did tout 50% off hundreds of video games, exclusive vinyl albums and discounts on books.

Walmart also didn’t bring any exclusives to the new releases of Jan. 12, but at least had titles such as Paramount’s Spell and season two of the new “Twilight Zone” on its shelves.

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CES Keynoter Best Buy CEO Corie Barry: No Reverting Back to 2019 Behaviors

Consumers’ move to digital experiences and expanded store services is here to stay, said Best Buy CEO Corie Barry during her Jan. 12 keynote at the virtual CES.

“There isn’t a world where people revert back to their 2019 behaviors,” said Barry, who took over as chief executive of the retail chain last year.

She noted that her dad during the pandemic learned to order groceries for curbside pickup and is now “more comfortable with curbside in general.”

“It’s this comfort level more than anything else that will continue to push the envelope,” she said, adding “customer expectations will be raised in terms of what they can get done digitally.”

Best Buy instituted curbside pickup within the first three weeks of March as the COVID-19 outbreak began, she noted.

“People took immediately to more digital means [of finding products],” she said.

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Also as the pandemic hit, products such as computers, webcams, and computer speakers were in high demand, as were home theater and gaming products.

One surprise was “how much people needed to be entertained at home,” she said.

Online sales grew 174% in Q3, with 40% of items picked up in store or curbside.

Going forward, she noted, “the store is going to have a massive role in fulfillment” of online orders.

Still, the in-store experience is important, especially in helping customers with complex technical problems.

“Our stores play a really vital role in that,” Barry said.

While some companies were concerned about the effect of the pandemic on their bottom line, Barry said that at Best Buy the view was to the customers’ experience and how it set the chain up for the future.

“We knew if we took care of them today, in the moment, that would be really important for our brand in the long term,” she said.

Merchandising: Best Buy Begins 2021 With 4K Sale

A dearth of big new home video releases at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 didn’t have retailers scrambling to offer exclusive promotions for any of them.

Many Target locations, for example, still won’t even bother to put out what new releases they do get on shelves in a timely manner.

With options limited, Best Buy continues to tout catalog sales on its website. The first week of 2021 saw its top movie deals focused on Blu-ray Discs and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays.

Blu-rays were offered as low as $3.99, for Straight Outta Compton. Blu-rays offered at $5.99 included Abominable, Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture, Hustlers and Queen & Slim. Blu-rays offered at $9.99 included Joker, 1917, The Gentlemen, Doctor Sleep, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, It: Chapter Two and Oscar winner Parasite. A selection of Blu-rays at $11.99 included Birds of Prey, Trolls World Tour and The King of Staten Island.

Among 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, those offered at $10.99 included Hustlers and The House With a Clock in Its Walls. A selection of 4K discs at $13.99 included 1917, The Blues Brothers, Trolls World Tour, The Croods, Hobbs & Shaw, The Invisible Man, The Gentlemen, The Purge: Election Year and Parasite. The sale also had 4K titles such as Lucy for $9.99 and Birds of Prey for $17.99.

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Merchandising: Best Buy Closes Out 2020 With Bundle Sale

Without much in the way of new releases Dec. 29, most retailers were content to coast into the new year without much fanfare on the home video front.

Best Buy however did continue to offer a number of deep discount promotions to clear out its inventory.

Among the deals were discounts on anime titles, such as Shout! Factory’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Weathering With You set for $74.99 (regularly $89.99); Blu-ray Steelbooks for Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky for $18.99 each (regularly $19.99); the 4K Steelbook of the 1996 Ghost in the Shell animated movie from Lionsgate for $14.99 (regularly $19.99); and the My Hero Academia: Two Heroes Blu-ray for $12.99 (regularly $24.99).

Movie and TV bundles offered included the “Die Hard” five-film Blu-ray collection for $22.99 (regularly $27.99); Lionsgate’s eight-film “Saw” Blu-ray collection for $12.99 (regularly $14.99); Lionsgate’s five-film “Rambo” Blu-ray set for $24.99 (down from $29.99); Disney’s three-movie “Santa Clause” Blu-ray set for $19.99 (regularly $29.99); Universal’s Back to the Future Trilogy 35th anniversary Blu-ray for $24.99 (regularly $34.99); and Universal’s eight-movie “Fast & Furious” Blu-ray collection for $41.99 9down from $61.99).

Best Buy also continued its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc sale and had regular Blu-ray movies for as low as $4.99.

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2020 Retail Winners: E-Commerce, Consumer Electronics

To say online shopping boomed in 2020 would be an understatement,, especially during a pandemic. The trend toward e-commerce isn’t new. It’s been a reality of retail for awhile as stores big and small embrace transacting over the Internet as a means of dealing direct with the consumer and better competing against Amazon.

New data from eMarketer suggests that lost pre-pandemic spending on restaurants, bars, salons, travel, live events, movie theaters, etc., contributed to a $100 billion uptick in e-commerce spending, notably on consumer electronics.

In January, eMarketer forecast total e-commerce sales would reach $675 billion in 2020. Now, that estimate is closer to $795 billion.

Consumer electronics were particularly well suited to serve the needs of a population suddenly stuck at home managing unexpected work, school and leisure time. Online CE sales are tracking toward $179.3 billion, up from pre-pandemic estimate of $150.1 billion.

“That’s $29.3 billion in unanticipated online spending on devices to help us work, learn, [entertain] and play from home,” analyst Ethan Cramer-Flood wrote in a Dec. 29 note.

Indeed, tech spending on hardware and services during the 2020 holiday season (October-December) is projected to reach $135 billion in revenue in the United States — a 10% increase from a year ago, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

Projected top-selling CE devices over the holidays include smartphones, laptops, next-generation video game consoles, TVs and wearables.

“The 2020 holiday season will bring economic, safety and political unknowns — but the consumer desire to give and receive technology gifts is certain,” said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of market research at CTA. “With consumers forgoing budgets for travel and experiences this year, more dollars will go towards technology gifts that support connection, productivity, health and home entertainment, as technology has been a critical asset to so many during the ongoing pandemic.”

Perhaps no CE retailer has better adapted to the pandemic than Best Buy, which saw a near 174% increase in e-commerce revenue and entertainment in the most-recent fiscal quarter. The nation’s largest CE retailer was quick to offer online purchases with curbside pick-up during the early days of the pandemic.

The chain’s entertainment segment, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, saw same-store sales increase 17.5% compared with a 20.8% decline during the previous-year period. The division generated 5% of domestic revenue, or $542.5 million, compared with $448.2 million last year.

Domestic online revenue of $3.82 billion increased 173.7% on a comparable basis, and as a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue increased to approximately 35.2% versus 15.6% in 2019.

CEO Corie Barry said the pandemic has underscored Best Buy’s purpose to “enrich lives through technology,” and the capabilities the chain is “flexing and strengthening” to benefit sales going forward.

Merchandising: Stores Offer Discounts for 2020 Holidays

The big retailers didn’t do much to acknowledge the new home video releases of Dec. 22. Many of the big chain stores in Southern California didn’t even bother to put them out, leaving new-release shelves looking barren and neglected as clerks focus on other things, such as mobile phones and video games.

In fact, Target listed Universal’s new The War With Grandpa Blu-ray as available only online.

However, with Christmas arriving at the end of the week, the major retailers did offer some of their typical seasonal discounts.

Target in its weekly ad circular advertised up to 20% off select movies.

Best Buy touted a sale on holiday Blu-rays that could be had for as low as $7.99 each. Best Buy also offered its inventory of exclusive Steelbooks for as low as $11.99 each.

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Merchandising: On the Hunt for ‘Tenet’

The big title to hit shelves Dec. 15 was Warner’s Tenet, the latest mind-bending adventure from director Christopher Nolan. Both Best Buy and Walmart offered exclusive editions of the film.

Best Buy had its typical Steelbook offering, presenting a Tenet 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook combo pack for $34.99.

Walmart’s ‘Tenet’ DVD

Walmart also dipped into its exclusives playbook, and with Tenet being a Warner title, offered a bare-bones DVD with unique box art and no extras for $16.96. The widely available special-edition DVD with an hour of behind-the-scenes extras wasn’t even stocked in some stores, but was available at Walmart.com for $19.96.

‘Tenet’ standard-release box art for DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD

Target didn’t have a Tenet exclusive, but was running a promotion for 20% off DVDs and Blu-rays, excluding new releases.

A number of Target stores around Southern California continue to have issues stocking their new releases in a timely manner on Tuesday morning. At one store, where the shelves were empty at 8 a.m. but the display labels for all the new titles were in place, a clerk said the new titles likely wouldn’t be stocked until late afternoon, as they weren’t in a rush to bring out the boxes of new product from the stockroom, even for customers who asked about them specifically.

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There were also reports of issues with Target’s app feature allowing shoppers to pay online and pick the item up in the store. One customer looking for the Tenet 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray said he had several stores cancel his order on the claim that they were out of stock, but when he went to the actual store, they had plenty of copies on the shelf.

Merchandising: ‘Total Recall’ Among Latest Best Buy Steelbooks

Best Buy Dec. 8 continued its practice of offering a slate of exclusive new Steelbook editions to make up for an otherwise dull Blu-ray and DVD release slate.

Best Buy had a Steelbook edition of Lionsgate’s new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack of Total Recall, at $18.99.

Also new is Best Buy’s Steelbook for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition of HBO’s Westworld: Season 3, even though the standard release came out Nov. 17. Best Buy’s Steelbook was listed at $46.99 upon release.

Best Buy’s ‘Westworld: Season 3’ Steelbook

Best Buy also has a Blu-ray Steelbook of Funimation’s My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, a movie that first arrived on Blu-ray in March 2019. The Steelbook edition, offered for $25.99 by Best Buy, will apparently be widely available Feb. 21, according to Amazon.

‘My Hero Academia: Two Heroes’ Steelbook

Other chains weren’t so quick to line up exclusives following Black Friday. The lineup of top titles each week has gotten so anemic it seems that many of the big chains have left their DVD and Blu-ray shelves in a state of neglect, not even bothering to update the displays for weeks at a time without anything major to hit the shelves.

Outside of Best Buy, the most notable home video deal was that Target offered 20% off movie, TV show and book boxed sets.

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Merchandising: Several ‘Middle-Earth’ 4K Gift Sets Available at Best Buy

For the home video titles released Dec. 1, Best Buy again offered exclusive Steelbook editions for several of them.

Among the biggest were Steelbook 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray boxed sets for Warner’s “Middle-Earth” fantasy series — “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogies, at $119.99 each. The boxes had both the theatrical and extended versions of each film on 4K Ultra HD in their own Steelbook case, plus a larger Steelbook box for the trilogy.

In addition, The Lord of the Rings 4K Ultra HD trilogy was also offered as a $149.99 gift set with a collectible ring on a necklace.

Best Buy’s ‘Chernobyl’ 4K Steelbook

Other new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbooks for the week include HBO’s Chernobyl at $39.99, and Paramount’s Arrival at $34.99.

 

Best Buy’s ‘Arrival’ 4K Steelbook

Also, as a holdover from Black Friday sales, Best Buy is selling Steelbook movies for as low as $7.99.

 

Meanwhile, Target is offering up to 30% off holiday music and movies.

Target also has an exclusive $129.99 DVD set of Modern Family: The Complete Series.

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