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Retailers Anticipate Healthy Post-Holiday Sales

29 Dec, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The day-after-Christmas sales of packaged media will likely not disappoint, according to early sales returns from retailers and industry experts.

Increasingly, retailers view this period as “Phase Two” of the holiday shopping season, when fresh merchandise combined with a flurry of gift-card redemptions may add up to an estimated $18 billion in late-season revenue.

To take advantage of the Monday, Dec. 26 shopping day, studios moved up the release of 36 DVD titles originally slated for Dec. 27.

“Why leave the stuff in the backroom on one of the busiest shopping days of the year?” said Ralph Tribbey, editor of The DVD Release Report. “I suspect there were a lot of street date violations [on Monday]. I seriously doubt there was a retailer on this planet that if they had the product was wringing their hands about street date.”

A Best Buy spokesperson said it was too early to quantify the uptick on the early releases, but he said they corresponded well with holiday gift-card recipients.

“We know that movies and music are two of the most popular gift-card products,” said Best Buy spokesperson Brian Lucas. “To be able to let consumers spend their gift cards on new releases was exciting for us as a retailer.”

Procrastinators and late Hanukkah shoppers helped lift pre-Christmas sales performance at U.S. chain stores by 2.8 percent compared to the previous week, according to data compiled from 69 national chains by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The week's sales grew 3.9 percent compared to the previous year.

Friday, Dec. 23, saw an especially strong day, and gift-card demand was strong throughout the week, said Michael Niemira, ICSC's chief economist and director of research. “While retailers are pleased with [pre-Christmas] performance, the holiday shopping season is far from over, since about 60 percent of gift-card redemptions occur between Dec. 26 and the end of January.”

Sales for the month and the holiday season remain on track for a moderate increase of 3.0 percent to 3.5 percent, on a year-over-year basis, Niemira added.

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