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Retailers Upbeat About Home Entertainment

17 Sep, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Several retailers spoke out at the DisplaySearch HDTV 2008 Conference Sept. 17 on the state of DVD, Blu-ray and HDTVs. There was some hand wringing over the state of the economy, especially with the fourth quarter right around the corner, but for the most part the retailers were upbeat.

“We don’t believe that the store front and the physical rental of DVDs is by any means dead, as some Wall Street types would have you believe,” said Jeff Smith, Blockbuster’s consumer electronics category manager. “But, right now, it’s kind of a crapshoot on what the rest of the year will look like.”

Jonathan Zupnick, with Sears Holdings Corp.’s TV, video and audio division, said customer education on high-def and Blu-ray is retailers’ top concern.

“If they don’t understand, they can’t equate a value … what we’ve been doing is playing with the price, searching for [the right price for HDTVs and Blu-ray players],” he said.

Smith added that Blockbuster is very hopeful for high-def, especially for the HDTV business.

“Clearly we have a vested, somewhat selfish, interest in the success of high-def,” he said. “Every time [someone] sells an HDTV, we look at that as a potential [Blu-ray] customer.”

Blockbuster this year installed an HDTV and Blu-ray player in most of its stores, to show customers the difference in quality. “The one thing that keeps consumers from pulling out their wallet is uncertainty,” Smith said.

Bob Gartland, president of AVAD, which sells high-def equipment to home entertainment installers, said his company believes Americans will be hot on high-def this fourth quarter.

“In general we’re still optimistic about consumer electronics this fourth quarter,” he said. “The lower price points on Blu-ray will drive a lot of interest … and we know the studios are especially interested in the fourth quarter.”


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