With Decline in Disc Sales, Black Friday for Home Entertainment Just Isn’t the Same

Black Friday came and went with some pronounced changes from just a few years ago: Shorter lines, plenty of parking, and fewer elbows from shoppers determined to grab the last bargain-priced item before you do.

Two factors are at play here: the rise in e-commerce, which has shifted much of the bargain-hunting from Walmart to Amazon, and extended Black Friday sales that in some cases began right after Halloween. The shift to online shopping really accelerated during the pandemic, and the bulk of the foot traffic has yet to return.

But for home entertainment, Black Friday has for all practical purposes ceased to exist. A steady decline in DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales, and a dramatic shift in consumer spending toward subscription streaming, has made the days of shoppers scooping up bargain-priced discs seem as antiquated as renting a videocassette at Blockbuster.

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The once-ubiquitous “dump bins” of $5 DVDs at Walmart are gone. Completely. Earlier this year, Media Play News reported that the nation’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer was shaving 20% off its already-small footprint for physical media, but the absence of cheap DVDs still came as something of a shock.

Best Buy, on the other hand, included DVDs and Blu-ray Discs front and center — literally — in its Black Friday blowout deals. At the consumer electronics chain’s store in Oceanside, Calif., there were standalone displays for “Black Friday Deals” and “$7.99 and Up” movies, though by midday Blu-ray Discs priced at the low end were gone and all that remained were mostly 4K Ultra HD editions of films such as Hacksaw Ridge, Total Recall, Dirty Dancing and the first two “John Wick” movies, priced at $17.99.

Best Buy also had a separate standee for Top Gun: Maverick, which was discounted to $24.99 for the Blu-ray Disc and $29.99 for the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

Target offered a buy-two-get-one-free deal on movies, books and games, as well as a selection of discounted holiday-themed DVDs with new slipcover box art.

Earlier this month, Samba TV released the results of a new survey, taken in late summer, that found 71% of shoppers were planning to take part in Black Friday shopping, up from about 60% last year. For tech-savvy millennials, the percentage, surprisingly, was even higher, at 88%.

Still, the survey found that just 31% of U.S. adults are planning to do most of their holiday shopping in stores this holiday season, which explains the lighter crowds. 

Online, however, is a different story. Adobe, which tracks sales on retailer websites, on Nov. 26 reported total online Black Friday sales of $9.12 billion, 2.3% more than U.S. shoppers spent online on Black Friday last year. 

Cyber Monday (today, Nov. 28) is once again expected to be the biggest day for online shopping, with Adobe projecting total sales of $11.2 billion.

On Thanksgiving Day, U.S. shoppers spent $5.29 billion online, another record. Popular items included Apple watches and AirPod, smart TVs and speakers, and gaming consoles. 

Adobe says sales from smartphones accounted for 55% of online sales on Thanksgiving Day. These sales are expected to account for 53% of total Black Friday sales, the company predicts.

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