December 14, 2018
As entertainment retail hits the home stretch during the winter holiday sales period, Walmart quietly remains an industry leader.
In an era of declining packaged media sales, the nation’s largest retailer continues to spearhead the market for DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies simply by continuing to devote significant retail space to content, including point-of-purchase displays and ubiquitous dump bins.
Walmart has always appealed to rural shoppers, geographical areas that resonate among packaged media consumers.
“We still sell a lot of DVDs at Walmart,” Thomas Hughes, EVP of worldwide TV & digital distribution at Lionsgate, told attendees Dec. 11 at the Parks Associates’ “Future of Video” confab in Marina del Rey, Calif. “We’re on the coasts, so we don’t see it. But other people still buy DVDs.”
While Walmart doesn’t reveal sales data for specific product categories, it does expect to report 3% increase in same-store sales for the fiscal year ending in January.
In the most recent fiscal period (ended Oct. 26), Walmart reported a low single-digit sales increase for general merchandise, which includes packaged media.
“We delivered solid sales results across most categories in the quarter,” was all Walmart would say on the matter.
To be sure, revenue from DVD movies pales in comparison to the heady days of home video more than 10 years ago when studios regularly touted first-day sales of new releases and home entertainment studio revenue trumped the box office.
Indeed, sales of discs declined nearly 15% to $2.79 billion in the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) compared to the previous-year period, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.
But big box retailers such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy understand turning a cold shoulder to DVD leaves billions in potential revenue for ecommerce behemoth Amazon and others.
At the Walmart Supercenter in Travelers Rest, S.C., the entertainment section included requisite links between packaged media and Walmart-owned Vudu.com – which sells and rents digital content.
But a picked-through, shrewdly-placed POP display of “bestsellers” Blu-ray and DVD titles underscored whether consumers still buy packaged media.
“You’d be surprised,” said the entertainment section employee. “It’s the holidays, people want DVDs in their Christmas stockings.”