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Target-ing the End of VHS

2 May, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Target Corp. is getting rid of videocassettes in its stores, making more room for DVD and new formats, industry sources report.A high-ranking studio executive said Target home entertainment buyers have notified the studios that, effective Sept. 1, the chain will be out of the VHS business altogether.

“You've got DVD, UMD [PlayStation Portable's Universal Media Disc], high-def coming — what are you going to do?” he said. “There's only so much room.”

For the major studios, Target, in most cases, is the No. 2 customer, behind Wal-Mart and slightly ahead of Best Buy, according to studio sources. Target has 1,330 locations in 47 states.

The VHS phase-out has already begun, the source said, with kidvid the last to go. He expects children's video to only be available on DVD after Sept. 1, although Target obviously “reserves the right to make exceptions.”

Calls to Target's corporate headquarters for comment were not returned by press time. The chain generally does not comment in trade press.

Kidvid and fitness product have been the slowest to shift from VHS to DVD in sales to consumers, but increased hardware adoption over the past few years has put DVD in the lead in these genres, as well. Nearly 80 percent of kidvid and fitness video sales are now on DVD, according to Nielsen VideoScan.

Several fitness suppliers confirmed Target already has eliminated VHS from its fitness lineup and that recent sales to the chain have all been in the DVD format.

There were a handful of cassettes at some store locations for new releases such as Meet the Fockers and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, clerks said in calls to Target stores in Minneapolis, Seattle, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas, Boston and New Jersey. But they said their stores had no substantial VHS sections to speak of, except for kids' titles.

Visits to four locations in Southern California revealed no VHS selections outside of kidvid titles, even for last week's Lemony Snicket release.

“Everyone wants DVD,” said a clerk at a Woodland Hills, Calif., location.

VHS product is still available for order on Target's Web site. The site listed Meet the Fockers as available to ship in 24 hours on VHS or DVD. For Lemony Snicket, however, the site reported a four-to-eight-week order time for the VHS. DVDs of the title are listed as available to ship in 24 hours.

Additional reporting by Thomas K. Arnold.

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