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Retailers: It's Time to Give DVD More Floor

25 Sep, 2003 By: Stephanie Prange

Whatever happened to cutting-edge retailing? Music sales are in a definite tailspin, with three consecutive years of down CD action.

And yet I haven't seen any of big retailers appreciably cut back on their CD inventories and pump up the volume in regard to DVD, which for more than a year now has been the hottest consumer good on the planet.

Even Best Buy, which helped launch DVD with its early, and visible, support of the digital format, still has row after row of CDs up in front, better merchandised (read: face out) and occupying a much bigger footprint than DVD, which is in the back of most stores.

Wal-Mart has DVD filed library-style, along a tall row, while CDs are face-out and waist-high.

Barnes & Noble and Borders also have significantly more “friendly” CD sections, laid out invitingly, while DVDs are displayed more as an afterthought.

Target Stores has probably gone the furthest in at least putting DVD on an equal footing with CDs, at least in its reconfigured stores, but that's not the point.

DVD is outselling the bejesus out of music, while CD sales are now a fraction of what they were three years ago — with the Recording Industry Association of America reporting a drop in CD shipments of more than 15 percent, just in the first half of this year, on top of an 8.9 percent drop in 2002 and a 6.4 percent decline in 2001. Since 2000, annual CD sales have fallen from an all-time high of 942.5 million to 803.3 million, and, based on first-half trends, this year promises to be even worse.

A lot worse.

Virgin Megastores has the right idea. What was once the nation's biggest music store (in terms of average store size) is now a veritable DVD emporium.

When are the others going to follow?

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