Weekly Rental Spending Lowest of the Year1 May, 2003 By: Melinda Saccone
Rentals for the week ended April 27 posted the lowest weekly total of the year, although year-to-date rentals are still up 1.8 percent from the comparable period in 2002.
Consumers spent $142 million at the rental counter in the last week of the month, down 10.9 percent from the previous week and down 5 percent from the comparable week last year.
Sales data indicates consumers are buying more titles than ever. According to Nielsen VideoScan's last complete week of data, sales of the top 50 sellers showed explosive growth for the week ended April 19 from the comparable period last year. The top 50 sellers for the week posted triple-digit increases, in part due to the debut of Warner Home Video's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
DVD and VHS sales of the top 50 sellers for the week posted a 236.9 percent increase from the comparable top 50 sellers in 2002. Disc sales for the same week were up 250.5 percent, while cassette sales posted a 194.5 percent gain.
Although this week's top 100 rentals carried a bigger box office punch (68 percent more) than last year's counterparts, there was a 187.5 percent increase in the number of sellthrough-priced releases on VHS in this year's group, increasing consumers' opportunity to buy rather than rent.
The top 100 rentals for the week ended April 27 boasted 23 releases priced for sellthrough on VHS compared with just eight during the comparable week in 2002.
More opportunity for consumer purchases of the top rental hits resulted in fewer transactions at the rental counter. Rental volume for the top 100 rentals for the week posted a 37 percent decline from the comparable week in 2002.
An increase in this year's average rental price helped to offset the decline in volume. The top 100 rentals generated $104.8 million for the week ended April 27, down 3.2 percent from the $108.2 million generated by the comparable group last year.