Money for leisure activities spent on home entertainment


Home is where the recession is weathered, so products that contribute to entertainment in and around the domestic space have been achieving superior results.

Many consumers are refitting lifestyle activities and expenses to the home as economic concerns prompt them to spend frugally. One result is openness to new products and shopping venues, particularly as consumers squeeze everyday expenses to finance a few remaining leisure activities. Thus, drug chains can sell customers lifestyle-related, inexpensive, everyday items if they are well positioned and priced.

DVDs can readily satisfy the consumer demand for inexpensive home entertainment, so CVS has been rolling out new DVD fixtures to get in on the opportunity. “We recently implemented a 5-in., four-sided DVD rack in almost all of our stores, which has one side featuring new releases, one side for low-priced DVDs—including older titles at a $6.99 retail—and one side for children’s DVDs, Disney titles, ‘Dora,’ etc. The fourth side features CDs,” said Joanne Dwyer, a CVS spokeswoman. “We have found that customers appreciate the convenience of having a wide selection of DVDs to choose from while shopping for their everyday necessities.”

As the recession set in, Digital Entertainment Group reported that DVD spending in the United States dropped 5.5% in 2008. Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why, consumers waiting for initial release prices to decline before purchasing is an element, which opens additional opportunities for retailers that aren’t typical new-release destinations.

Ryan Kugler, president of DV&A, a secondary wholesaler of DVDs, CDs and video games, said he has seen additional business that the recession has shifted to home entertainment trends. A market that turned on specialty, seasonal and children’s offerings now has shifted toward titles that can engage whole families inexpensively, and his customers are looking for better general entertainment. “They’re looking for more ‘A’ movies than before, when they maybe looked for a special interest or children’s movie,” he said. “With a special interest movie, maybe some kind of documentary, you have to take a chance. An ‘A’ movie, the studio has marketed it, it has a star and it’s recognizable. If it’s unfamiliar, what if it’s bad and you only had five bucks in your wallet to spend? Then it’s a big loss.”

As the summer arrives, household activities will become a more important aspect of home entertainment, and supplying such basic products as inexpensive grills can satisfy the needs of people who previously might have spent leisure time at restaurants or traveling. To reach those consumers over the Memorial Day weekend, Rite Aid promoted “loads of last-minute fun at reasonable prices,” said spokesman Eric Harkreader, including a 14-in. grill for $9.99.

According to NPD Group studies, sales for grills priced under $300—the overwhelming majority—gained 2.9% in 2008. “Outdoor living has a couple of things going for it in this economy,” said Mark Delaney, an NPD analyst. “The ‘staycation,’ then the trend in outdoor living, loosely defined as activities around the house—ancillary categories around grilling, patio furniture, plastic cups and dinnerware—[all] have seen increases. If you’re not going to take a vacation this year, spending the time on the patio or the deck [will maybe make you] reach into your pocket to spruce up that environment.”

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