Even though the megahits are expected to drive sell-through sales to new heights in the fourth quarter, could their power overshadow and cut into sales of secondary titles?
In last year's fourth quarter, which didn't have megahits of this year's caliber, the top-10 sell-through titles accounted for more than 30% of the $1.6 billion in videocassette sales in the November-through-January period, according to Alexander & Associates, a New York market research firm.
Still, most of the supermarkets contacted by SN said that with the top titles often in a competitive price war at mass merchandisers, and with demand continuing for family-oriented titles, secondary titles are expected to remain strong in the fourth quarter.
Some retailers also mentioned that the sales impact of the big hits is relatively brief, mostly within the first few weeks of release.
Titles such as "The Greatest Story Ever Told," rereleased by Turner Home Entertainment, and Disney releases such as "Old Yeller" and "Heidi" fulfill the high demand for family fare and are expected to produce good sales this season.
"There's very little out there that we are passing on," said Tim Harrison, video supervisor of Food Giant Supermarkets, Sikeston, Mo. "We are taking all of the big ones and in certain markets we are also taking some titles like "The Greatest Story Ever Told.'"
The big titles represent additional business for P&C Food Markets, Syracuse, N.Y., said Jim Rowland, director of nonfood. "I don't think they are going to buy these and not buy an off title. These are titles that they are going to pick up for their libraries - they've got to have the regular holiday merchandise that we will be selling," he said.
There will be opportunies for other titles because the strongest sales of "Jurassic Park" and "Snow White" will come within a short period after their release, said Shirley Decker, video buyer of Goff Food Stores, Haslett, Mich. "If you haven't gone through a 48-pack of a big sell-through release in a couple of weeks, then you are doing something wrong," she said.
"People are going to spend their money both ways," said Marge O'Neil, corporate secretary of O'Neil's Markets, Tacoma, Wash. "I don't think it is going to make a difference" to the sales of other videos because "people are going to buy the big hits and save them."
In spite of going deep on the big hits, Bashas' Markets will continue to stock small quantities of the secondary titles, said Bill Glaseman, video specialist at the Chandler, Ariz.-based chain. "We are not going to be cutting back and we are still going to be within budget," he said.
The week after the release of "Jurassic Park" and "Snow White" there will be little activity on other titles, said Louis Stinebaugh, director of general merchandise at Baker's Supermarkets, Omaha, Neb. "But leading up to that point, and shortly thereafter, if there is a title coming out, we are going to support it. We are going to give the customer the opportunity to make that decision," he said. Children's and family videos will do exceptionally well in the fourth quarter, said the retailers. "I think all the cartoons will be strong and we will be carrying all the Disney product," said Gary Schloss, vice president of general merchandise at Carr Gottstein Foods, Anchorage, Alaska. "Children's video has always been and will always be strong during the fourth quarter, and there's a lot more that is coming out besides the blockbuster hits."
Family favorites, such as Disney catalog titles "Old Yeller," "The Parent Trap," "Heidi" and "The Dark Crystal," will do well, he said.