That's because more and more supermarket retailers are taking advantage of spring merchandising programs and keying into Easter as an identifiable selling period.
"A lot of parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles don't want to give candy. [Videos] are an alternative," said Shirley Decker, video buyer at Goff Food Stores, Haslett, Mich.
Recognizing this, studios are looking at Easter as a merchandising opportunity. MCA/Universal Home Video, Universal City, Calif., will release "Babe" March 22, just a few weeks before Easter, while Buena Vista Home Video, Burbank, Calif., will offer Disney's "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" March 26.
Buena Vista also recently debuted the "Disney Easter Video Shop," a 14-title collection that includes "The Best of Roger Rabbit" and "The Easter Chipmunk." Other timely titles include a new "Barney" release from Lyon's Group, Richardson, Texas, and "Mask," a 30-minute animated video based on the Saturday television show from Turner Home Entertainment, Atlanta. Also from Turner is "The Greatest Adventure Stories From the Bible," a 13-title series that includes "The Creation" and "The Easter Story."
Additionally, there are "Goosebumps," from Fox Video, Beverly Hills, Calif., and "The Baby Sitters Club" from Columbia TriStar, Culver City, Calif.
Decker plans to bring in 11 display packs of "Babe" (each with 48 movies) and five display packs for "Winnie."
"We've also brought in a few older titles, like 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' and some older Touchstone and Disney films," Decker added.
By the time Easter arrives, "Pocahontas," which was released Feb. 28, will have been available on video about six weeks, so Decker does not expect it to be a big seller for Easter. Nonetheless, because of the other new releases, Decker expects a 60% to 70% increase over last year's Easter sales.
She expects such a large jump because there weren't many popular titles available for Easter in 1995. This is because many studios focus on selling for the quarter rather than a specific time of year, she said.
As a result, if a holiday happens to fall in the wrong place in a quarter, there may not be big titles to offer consumers for an occasion. Decker believes studios should pay more attention to holidays rather than quarters. She praised MCA/Universal Home Video for taking retailers into consideration when it times the release of videos.
Decker's business is about 60% rental and 40% sell-through, with video space taking about 16 linear feet (excluding space for movable shippers). Along with promoting "Pocahontas" this month and "Babe" in April, she plans to bring in "Barney" shippers that will display Barney plush dolls at $9.99, and movies that will range from $9.95 to $10.95. In addition to in-store displays, Decker's inserts for local newspapers have a circulation of about 90,000. In-store promotions will include coloring contests for "Pocahontas" and "Babe," with giveaways.
Russ Kates, co-owner of Steele's Markets in Fort Collins, Colo., plans to have several seasonal displays that will feature videos and other Easter merchandise, including candy and egg-coloring kits.
Kates plans for each of his four stores to have at least one shipper of "B-movie" Easter videos. If the videos have strong sales, additional shippers may be added.
"It gets the whole store in the mood for Easter, and gives us an opportunity to sell other seasonal merchandise," he said. Seasonal movies retail at under $9.95.
Kates expects about a 5% increase in his sell-through business for Easter. His sell-through accounts for about 10% of his overall business. Rentals will probably increase about 15% for the Easter weekend, he added.
"We jump on the big titles like 'Pocahontas,' " he said. "We'll buy extras to rent and then sell them after a month."
Kates often buys the extra copies so that he will have enough movies to rent when a title is hot. His video departments in four stores range in size from 300 to 800 square feet. The larger stores stock about 4,000 titles, while the smaller ones carry about 1,500.
Marilyn Aldrich, video buyer at Dahl's Food Markets, Des Moines, Iowa, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Aldrich said special promotions for Easter in the past have not done very well. Some of the children's videos she expects to stock in the next few months include titles from Disney's Masterpiece Collection.
Bob Gettner, video buyer at B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb., said that although Easter is a tough holiday to sell, the occasion may be on its way to becoming a merchandising opportunity.
"Last year I noticed people substituting other items -- such as movies -- for unhealthy candy," he said. "We moved a little more product last year than in previous years." Gettner of B&R guessed that each of his stores would do about $100 of extra business during Easter. B&R plans to make the holiday a focus of its weekly newspaper video promotion.
"We'll promote the Easter shippers from Disney," said Randall King, nonfood buyer for Byrd Food Stores, Burlington, N.C.
King said he hasn't noticed a big change in his business around Easter, although he noted that "it's getting to the point where every holiday is becoming an occasion."
Though not all retailers are focusing on special Easter promotions, most seem to be aware that the holiday is becoming a good time to move products. Gettner expressed hope that the trend will continue.