Walmart Reduces DVD, Blu-ray Disc Footprint by 20%

As disc sales, overall, continue to decline, Walmart Inc. is reportedly scaling back its DVD and Blu-ray Disc store footprint by 20% in advance of this year’s holiday season, sources say.

Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer and one of the top sellers of packaged media.

Last fall, Media Play News reported that many Target stores, in the midst of an overall store layout redesign, “have seemingly cut in half the amount of shelf space in their electronics departments devoted to packaged-media movies and TV shows.” Best Buy stores, too, have shrunk their packaged-media sections over the last few years.

Walmart hasn’t appreciably changed its disc sections since before the pandemic, when the company began limiting DVDs and Blu-ray Discs to one aisle, devoting a second aisle that previously also carried discs to vinyl records and other products.

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During the VHS era, Walmart stores only carried a few sellthrough-priced videocassettes, mostly from Disney. That changed with the 1997 launch of DVD. Within two years, Walmart had become one of the country’s biggest sellers of the then-new format. DVDs were so popular that Walmart began using them as a loss-leader, heavily discounted — below the wholesale cost, other retailers grumbled — just to drive traffic into its stores. 

Year after year of double-digit sales growth culminated in 2006’s record DVD sales tally of $16.6 billion in consumer spending, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group estimates. Walmart, studio sources said at the time, accounted for at least 40% of that, or a cool $6.6 billion.

Last year, total consumer spending on DVDs and its two successor formats, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, were pegged at just $1.97 billion by the DEG, which if the ratio holds means Walmart’s total share barely exceeded $780 million.

Further cutting into Walmart’s disc sales, observers say, is the chain’s growing tendency to put select merchandise — from razors to DVDs — inside locked cabinets.

“DVD has traditionally been an impulse buy,” one observer said, “and tracking down a clerk to unlock a cabinet doesn’t play into that scenario.”

Ironically, a recent visit to an Oceanside, Calif., Walmart store saw an additional endcap in the electronics department for Halloween-themed DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, under the banner “Monsters of the Night.” It’s an annual promotion Walmart has been running at least since 2020. The marquee titles, with glow-in-the-dark O-rings, included a “Chucky” collection from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and “Final Destination” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie sets from Warner Bros.

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