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Rental Predictions Under Attack

22 Jun, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

I received just two letters about my column of a few weeks ago on how VHS and rental are dying, and they were both from exceptionally lucid rentailers who asked to remain nameless.

They disputed my conclusions and, in well-reasoned e-mails, told me about how their businesses are doing well. I believe them, but I still think they are the exceptions, not the rule (even though the discussion raised the point that a crappy release slate will disproportionately affect the hit-driven public chains).

Both of the dealers who wrote to me said their rentals are up about 12 to 13 percent. Both said those figures were rentals only — no PVT sales — and that the increase they quoted was for non-adult product (one did the calculation without including adult, the other does not carry adult product). Both questioned where we get our numbers, how we can possibly say that rentals are down. It must, both asserted, be some kind of error. “Remember that close to half the rental business is done by mom-and-pop [stores] who generally fly under your radar,” one suggested.

A valid point, but then how do you fellas account for this week's research information? Video Store Magazine Market Research surveyed 200 of those mom-and-pops and found that two-thirds of them expect business to be down in the second half of the year. Those indies expect rental business to be down as much as 20 percent in the second half of they year.

OK, the glass is also a third full: I would guess that my letter writers are among the 38 percent of indies surveyed who expect rentals to go up in the second half of the year — which, by the way, starts a week from tomorrow.

So let's hear it, folks. Are you part of the 62 percent that expects a rental decline between now and New Year's Eve, or the 38 percent who say business is going to pick up? Tell me why. There's a link below. All you have to do is click on “Reply to this Article.” C'mon, you know you want to ...

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